Nissan Motor Co is holding discussions with Panasonic Corp and overseas companies including Chinese firms over the possible sale of its controlling stake in a car battery manufacturing venture, sources said.
Two people with knowledge of the matter said that the Japanese automaker wants to sell its 51 percent stake in Automotive Energy Supply Corporation, which makes lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles. The company is jointly owned by NEC Corp.
The Nikkei daily reported that Nissan was looking to sell the company because it would be cheaper to buy batteries for its electric vehicles including its Leaf model from other makers. The newspaper did not say where it obtained the information.
Talk of the sale “is speculation, and is not based on any announcement by us”, Nissan said in an email. Spokesmen for Panasonic and NEC declined to comment.
Competition to supply batteries for electric vehicles is heating up due to expectations that a growing number of lower emission cars will be produced in the coming years.
Tesla Motors, which currently procures batteries for its electric vehicles from Panasonic, is planning to boost its total vehicle production to 500,000 in 2018 – two years earlier than its original target.
Nissan and Renault SA, under Carlos Ghosn, who heads both companies, have bet more heavily on electric cars than mainstream competitors. In 2009 the two companies pledged to invest 4 billion euros ($4.43 billion) to build models including the Nissan Leaf compact and as many as 500,000 batteries per year to power them.
Sales of the Leaf and those of other electrical vehicles, however, have been disappointing, meaning Nissan and NEC have been unable to lower battery costs through mass production.
Reuters reported in 2014 that Ghosn was preparing to cut battery production by AESC and instead use packs made by LG Chem.
Nissan is also in the process of selling its 41 percent stake in auto parts supplier Calsonic Kansei Corp, sources have told Reuters.
In May, the automaker agreed to buy a 34-percent stake in Mitsubishi Motors Corp for about $2.2 billion as it seeks to better compete with bigger rivals such as Toyota Motor Corp and Volkswagen.
The global energy storage market is on track to double as homes and businesses adopt battery energy storage to supplement rooftop solar and other renewable energy systems, according to a new report by IHS.
According to IHS, over the next decade, lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries will become the mainstream energy-storage technology, with more than 80% of global energy storage installations including it by 2025.
This year alone, the global energy storage market is expected to double, from 1.4 gigawatt hours (GWh or billion watt hours) added in 2015 to 2.9GWh.
Global grid-connected energy storage capacity will surge to 21GWh by 2025, according IHS Technologies’ Grid-Connected Energy Storage Market Tracker.
Half of all energy storage installations will occur behind the meter, meaning in homes and businesses, driven by self-consumption and back-up needs.
“Energy storage is set to grow as fast as solar photovoltaic energy has in recent years, sparking strong interest from a wide range of players and underscored by recent mergers and acquisitions among car manufacturers, major oil and gas companies, and conventional power suppliers,” Marianne Boust, an IHS principal analyst, said in a statement.
Japan and the United States will be the largest energy storage markets, generating a third of market revenues (totaling $50 billion) over the next decade, IHS said. In Australia and Japan, energy storage penetration is expected to exceed 5% of installed power capacity in 2025, underscoring the growing role that storage will play in grid stability, renewable integration and energy management.
“The United States and Japan are leading the way, but we’re also seeing activity in South Africa, Kenya, the Phillippines and other countries, as the cost of batteries continues to decline,” Boust added.
Companies such as Tesla are betting heavily on Li-ion batteries, both for all-electric vehicles and behind-the-meter energy storage systems.
As the number of solar panels on business and home rooftops multiply, America’s power grid is bearing an electrical load that it was never designed to handle: bidirectional power transfer.
In a blog post titled “Master Plan, Part Deux,” Musk sketched a vision of an integrated carbon-free energy enterprise offering a wider range of vehicles, and products and services beyond electric cars and batteries.
The newest elements of the strategy included plans to develop car and ride sharing programs as well as commercial vehicles – businesses where other companies already compete, and in some cases have ample head starts on Tesla.
The new vehicles range from a commercial truck called the Tesla Semi to a public transport bus, a “new kind of pickup truck” and a compact SUV. The vehicles will be unveiled next year alongside Tesla’s existing fleet of electric cars.
Musk restated his argument that Tesla should acquire solar panel installer SolarCity Corp, where he is a major shareholder, and said he aims to make Tesla’s Autopilot self-driving system 10 times safer than cars that humans drive manually.
The plan did not detail how the new projects would be financed at a time when Both Tesla and SolarCity are burning through cash.
Musk summarized the plan saying Tesla aimed to “create stunning solar roofs (for homes) with seamlessly integrated battery storage. Expand the electric vehicle product line to address all major segments. Develop a self-driving capability that is 10X safer than manual via massive fleet learning. Enable your car to make money for you when you aren’t using it.”
Musk said he envisions Tesla owners allowing others to use their vehicles through a smartphone application. He indicated there will be a “Tesla shared fleet,” but did not offer details of how that fleet would be managed.
BMW is experiencing rising sales of the latest version of its electric car, the i3, following the Berlin government’s push to subsidize electric cars, weekly German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung (FAS) said.
Citing company sources, FAS said that orders for the new i3 with a longer range battery, for deliveries from mid-July onwards, had risen “many times over” levels following the introduction of the car’s initial version in 2013.
Total orders for the new version had risen to 5,000 worldwide of which around 1,000 were placed in Germany, ahead of delivery.
BMW said last month it was overhauling its research and development to focus on self-driving cars for the future.
It also plans a sportier version of the i3 by 2018 and aims to launch the next new electric car in 2021.
The German government decided in the spring to subsidize new electric car purchases by giving a 4,000-euro ($4,400) discount to the buyer in a scheme that also pays 3,000 euros towards each purchase of a plug-in hybrid vehicle.
“The (buyers’) incentive bonus plays a positive part,” the paper quoted a BMW manager as saying.
BMW was not immediately available to comment.
South Korea’s LG Electronics Inc made the announcement that it will join forces with German carmaker Volkswagen AG to develop a connected car platform to enable vehicles to communicate with external devices.
LG, in a statement, said it and Volkswagen will work to jointly develop over “the next few years” technologies allowing drivers to control and monitor devices in their homes such as lights and security systems, as well as in-vehicle entertainment technologies and an alerting system for drivers providing “recommendations” based on real-time situations.
Automakers and technology companies have been forming partnerships in recent years, as the race to develop self-driving cars has created need for more sophisticated components and software that will allow vehicles to seamlessly communicate with various external devices and servers via the internet.
LG Electronics, along with affiliates LG Display Co Ltd and LG Innotek Co Ltd, has identified the auto industry as a new growth driver and has been pushing to grow new businesses amid continued struggles for its mobile phones division.
LG and its sister companies last year clinched a deal to supply key components ranging from the battery cells and the electric motor for General Motors Co’s 2017 Chevrolet Bolt electric car, burnishing their credentials. LG companies also supply products such as car audio systems and batteries to Volkswagen.
In the statement on Wednesday, Thomas Form, Volkswagen’s head of electronics and vehicle research, called LG a strong partner and said the pair will work to integrate smart home solutions into Volkswagen vehicles.
Samsung SDI is making progress in its discussions with Tesla Motors to provide batteries for the U.S. automaker’s Model 3 electric car as well as its energy storage products, a source with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.
Shares in the Samsung SDI surged to trade 6 percent higher in early afternoon trade, beating the wider market’s 1.1 percent gain.
Tesla, which currently procures its batteries from Japan’s Panasonic Corp, is likely to add Samsung SDI as a supplier should sales exceed expectations, the source said, although he declined to specify what level of sales would clinch a deal for the South Korean company.
Citing “tremendous demand,” Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk said in April that the automaker planned to boost total vehicle production to 500,000 in 2018 – two years earlier than its original target. Suppliers have said the goal will be difficult to achieve.
Tesla has taken 373,000 orders for its Model 3 – which has a starting price of $35,000, about half its Model S – and has said it would begin customer deliveries in late 2017.
“It remains to be seen whether the orders will translate into actual sales,” the source said. The source declined to be identified as the discussions were confidential.
A Samsung SDI spokesman declined to comment.
Hyundai Motor Co aims to launch its next-generation fuel-cell electric vehicle in early 2018, Vice Chairman Yang Woong-chul said, to better compete with Japanese rivals and meet tougher emissions rules.
Hyundai rolled out the world’s first mass-produced fuel cell vehicle in 2013, dubbed the Tucson Fuel Cell, but sales have trailed expectations due in part to a lack of refueling stations and a high price tag.
For its new fuel cell vehicle, the automaker is set to double the driving range to about 800 kilometers (497 miles), the Electronic Times reported in January.
The new model will be a sport utility vehicle (SUV), in contrast to the fuel cell sedans of Toyota Motor Corp and Honda Motor Co Ltd, the South Korean newspaper reported citing a high-ranking Hyundai official.
The automaker declined to comment on details of the new fuel cell vehicle when contacted by Reuters. Vice Chairman Yang was speaking on Wednesday during a ministerial tour of a Hyundai research and development center.
Hyundai, which has long trumpeted fuel-cell vehicles – those powered by electricity generated using hydrogen and oxygen – also plans to launch its first battery-powered car later this year.
Fundamental research leading towards faster wireless networks, secure low-power technologies for the Internet of Things, and even 3D displays will be the focus of Intel’s collaboration with the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA).
Intel and the CEA already work together in the field of high-performance computing, and a new agreement signed Thursday will see Intel fund work at the CEA’s Laboratory for Electronics and Information Technology (LETI) over the next five years, according to Rajeeb Hazra, vice president of Intel’s data center group.
The CEA was founded in 1945 to develop civil and military uses of nuclear power. Its work with Intel began soon after it ceased its atmospheric and underground nuclear weapons test programs, as it turned to computer modeling to continue its weapons research, CEA managing director Daniel Verwaerde said Thursday.
That effort continues, but the organization’s research interests today are more wide-ranging, encompassing materials science, climate, health, renewable energy, security and electronics.
These last two areas will be at the heart of the new research collaboration, which will see scientists at LETI exchanging information with those at Intel.
Both parties dodged questions about who will have the commercial rights to the fruits of their research, but each said it had protected its rights. The deal took a year to negotiate.
“It’s a balanced agreement,” said Stéphane Siebert, director of CEA Technology, the division of which LETI is a part.
Who owns what from the five-year research collaboration may become a thorny issue, for French taxpayers and Intel shareholders alike, as it will be many years before it becomes clear which technologies or patents are important.
Hazra emphasized the extent to which Intel is dependent on researchers outside the U.S. The company has over 50 laboratories in Europe, four of them specifically pursuing so-called exa-scale computing, systems capable of billions of billions of calculations per second.
The new home battery system, called xStorage, will be in direct competition with Tesla’s Powerwall lithium-ion wall-mounted battery, which the company announced last year.
Tesla’s Powerwall will come in 6.4 kilowatt hour (kWh) and 10kWh capacities. The 6.4kWh battery retails for $3,000.
Recently, Tesla removed the 10kWh Powerwall battery from its website.
Nissan/Eaton’s xStorage wall-mounted lithium-ion battery system will provide 4.2kWh of power and have a starting price of about $4,800, the companies said.
While the xStorage battery appears to cost more than the Powerwall, Nissan said the total cost of ownership would be lower because the price includes professional installation of the unit. SolarCity is expected to charge about $7,500 for the Powerwall battery with installation, which includes an inverter that changes direct current from solar panels to usable alternating current.
Alex Eller, an energy analyst with Navigant Research, said the cost of the xStorage system — if it can actually be fully installed for $4,800 — would be one of the lower priced systems on the market.
“However the installed costs are generally measured in $/kWh,” he wrote in an email reply to Computerworld. “A 4.2 kWh system installed for $4,800 is around $1,142/kWh. SolarCity claims they can install a PowerWall for around $7,500 for the unit rated at 7kWh [6.4kWh in actuality], which translates to only $1,071/kWh.”
SolarCity spokesman Jonathan Bass, however, said the company offers battery storage as a service for $4,250, including the battery pack, advanced hybrid inverter, monitoring and control systems and warranty and 9-year service agreement.”
“Installation is also included,” Bass said.
Additionally, up to nine Powerwall battery units can be daisy-chained together on a wall to provide up to about 57kWh of power. Nissan and Eaton did not specify whether their batteries could be interconnected to provide more aggregate power.
The average U.S. household uses about 20kWh to 25kWh of power every day, according to GTM Research.
Eller said Nissan/Eaton have more to worry about than just Tesla and its battery system, saying “the marketplace for residential battery storage systems is growing highly competitive.”
Researchers at the University of California at Irvine (UCI) have accidentally – yes, accidentally – discovered a nanowire-based technology that could lead to batteries that can be charged hundreds of thousands of times.
Mya Le Thai, a PhD candidate at the university, explained in a paper published this week that she and her colleagues used nanowires, a material that is several thousand times thinner than a human hair, extremely conductive and has a surface area large enough to support the storage and transfer of electrons.
Nanowires are extremely fragile and don’t usually hold up well to repeated discharging and recharging, or cycling. They expand and grow brittle in a typical lithium-ion battery, but Le Thai’s team fixed this by coating a gold nanowire in a manganese dioxide shell and then placing it in a Plexiglas-like gel to improve its reliability. All by accident.
The breakthrough could lead to laptop, smartphone and tablet batteries that last forever.
Reginald Penner, chairman of UCI’s chemistry department, said: “Mya was playing around and she coated this whole thing with a very thin gel layer and started to cycle it.
“She discovered that just by using this gel she could cycle it hundreds of thousands of times without losing any capacity. That was crazy, because these things typically die in dramatic fashion after 5,000 or 6,000 or 7,000 cycles at most.”
The battery-like structure was tested more than 200,000 times over a three-month span, and the researchers reported no loss of capacity or power.
“The coated electrode holds its shape much better, making it a more reliable option,” Thai said. “This research proves that a nanowire-based battery electrode can have a long lifetime and that we can make these kinds of batteries a reality.”
The breakthrough also paves the way for commercial batteries that could last a lifetime in appliances, cars and spacecraft.
British fuel-cell maker Intelligent Energy Holdings announced earlier this year that it is working on a smartphone battery that will need to be charged only once a week.
Researchers at the University of California at Irvine (UCI) said that’s they have discovered how to increase the tensile strength of nanowires that could be used to make lithium-ion batteries last virtually forever.
Researchers have pursued using nanowires in batteries for years because the filaments, thousands of times thinner than a human hair, are highly conductive and have a large surface area for the storage and transfer of electrons.
The problem they have encountered, however, is that nanowires are also extremely fragile and don’t hold up well to repeated discharging and recharging, known as “cycling.” For example, in a typical lithium-ion battery, they expand and grow brittle, which leads to cracking.
UCI doctoral candidate Mya Le Thai solved the brittleness conundrum by coating a gold nanowire in a manganese dioxide shell and encasing the assembly in an electrolyte made of a Plexiglas-like gel. The combination, they said, is reliable and resistant to failure.
The findings were published today in the American Chemical Society’s Energy Letters. Hard work combined with serendipity paid off in this case, according to senior author Reginald Penner.
“Mya was playing around, and she coated this whole thing with a very thin gel layer and started to cycle it,” Penner, chair of UCI’s chemistry department, said in a statement. “She discovered that just by using this gel, she could cycle it hundreds of thousands of times without losing any capacity.”
“That was crazy,” he added, “because these things typically die in dramatic fashion after 5,000 or 6,000 or 7,000 cycles at most.”
The researchers believe the gel plasticizes the metal oxide in the battery and gives it flexibility, preventing cracking.
Thai, the study’s leader, cycled the nanowire-enhanced electrode up to 200,000 times over three months without detecting any loss of capacity or power and without fracturing any nanowires.
“All nanowire capacitors can be extended from 2000 to 8000 cycles to more than 100,000 cycles, simply by replacing a liquid electrolyte with a… gel electrolyte,” the researchers wrote in their paper.
The result: commercial batteries that could last a lifetime in computers, smartphones, appliances, cars and spacecraft.
By 2020, 40% of Ford’s vehicles will include EV models, the company said. The move represents Ford’s largest-ever EV investment in a five-year period, it said.
Ford also announced a new Focus Electric, which features a new direct current (DC) fast-charge capability that can charge a vehicle to 80% capacity in around 30 minutes, offering an estimated 100-mile range. That’s about two hours faster than today’s Focus Electric. The new Focus Electric will go into production late next year.
By comparison, Tesla’s Supercharger technology can achieve an 80% vehicle charge in 40 minutes, but with just a 30-minute charge the vehicle can travel about 170 miles.
Last year, Tesla open-sourced its Supercharger technology, hoping to spur the market by offering it to any car company that wanted to duplicate it.
Ford also plans to introduce a new instrument cluster for its EVs. The new “SmartGauge with EcoGuide LCD Instrument Cluster” will offer multiple customizable displays that can help the driver see real-time EV power usage to help maximize vehicle efficiency.
Brake Coach, another smart feature Ford will introduce in its new EV lineup, will “coach” a driver on how to use smooth braking to maximize the energy captured through the regenerative braking system.
Regenerative braking systems recapture kinetic energy created when pressure is applied to a vehicle’s disk brakes and convert it into electricity used to charge the vehicle’s lithium-ion battery. The more energy a driver captures through braking, the more energy is returned to the vehicle’s battery.
“The challenge going forward isn’t who provides the most technology in a vehicle but who best organizes that technology in a way that most excites and delights people,” Raj Nair, executive vice president of Ford’s product development division. “By observing consumers, we can better understand which features and strengths users truly use and value and create even better experiences for them going forward.”
Some iPad Pro owners have reported strange behavior in their new 12.9-inch tablets. Normally when you charge a device, unless the battery has completely died, the screen remains responsive. But some iPad Pros are completely freezing, then dying, after a recharge. The problem appears to be widespread — Apple’s support communities are filled with complaints about the issue.
Apple knows about the problem, but hasn’t said why it’s happening. There doesn’t seem to be a real fix for it, either — at least not yet. The company published a support document on Thursday advising Pro users to force restart their tablets to bring them back to life, but that’s not really a long-term solution, because the issue is ongoing.
“When I connect my iPad Pro to the charger for more than an hour, it goes dead,” one iPad Pro owner reported in the Apple support forum. “It takes multiple hard resets to bring it back to life.”
MacRumors first reported the iPad Pro issue last Monday, just days after the supersized tablets began shipping, and even experienced the problem with one of its own tablets. Apple employees are reportedly advising a range of solutions, from using iTunes to restore settings to performing a hard restart, as Apple is now officially recommending.
We’ll update this story when Apple pushes out a fix for the problem.
The battery is based on the same lithium ion chemistry used in cellphone batteries today but gets its advantage from atoms of graphite bonded to the anode, Huawei said on Friday at an industry conference in Japan.
That change means faster charging but not at the expense of usage life or a sacrifice in the amount of energy that can be stored in each battery, it said.
It was developed by Huawei research and development subsidiary Watt Lab and the company showed off two prototypes in videos posted online.
One of the two batteries has a capacity of 3,000mAh (milliampere hours) — about equivalent to the batteries in modern smartphones — and can be charged to 48 percent of capacity in five minutes. The second has a much smaller capacity of 600mAh but reaches 68 percent of capacity in just two minutes.
The batteries have undergone repeated testing and the fast charging isn’t a one-time deal, the company said.
Huawei didn’t say when the fast charging might make its way into commercial products.
The announcement is one of a number this year that all point toward faster charging or longer battery life. Advances in battery technology have lagged other areas of technology and battery life remains a limiting factor for gadgets such as phones and larger products like electric vehicles.
Put your Android whatever back in its sand bucket. It is facing another threat. This one is spooky sounding and has been dubbed Ghost Push by Yang Yang and Jordan Pan of the Trend Micro security labs outfit.
The threat presents itself to people who download things from untrusted third-party stores, which is not everyone, and seems to behave in a way that is sophisticated – unlike perhaps people who download things from untrusted sites. Ghost Push is not new and neither is this method of infection.
“Halloween is still a month from now yet Android users are already being haunted by the previously reported Ghost Push malware, which roots devices and makes them download unwanted ads and apps. The malware is usually packaged with apps that users may download from third-party app stores,” said Yang and Pan.
“Further investigation of Ghost Push revealed more recent variants which, unlike older ones, employ routines that make them harder to remove and detect.”
Pan and Yang said that there are some 20 variants of Ghost Push in the wild, and that the threat has been active since April. It has ramped itself up during September and is presenting the worst side of itself in India and Indonesia, where 32 and 24 percent of infected devices can be found.
Trend does not think that this ghost theme is related to the XcodeGhost malware that bothers iOS users, but it does think that someone quite sophisticated is behind the attacks.
“It is likely that a team of cyber criminals are behind Ghost Push and they are not exactly new to the malware creation industry,” the researchers wrote.
“This group has already published 658 different malicious applications (1,259 different versions) in third-party app stores unrelated to Ghost Push. One of these apps has infected more than 100,000 devices, two more than 10,000 and seven more than 1,000.”
Third-party download sites are the reason for most of the affected devices and applications, but Yang and Pan said that a couple made it through to the official Google Play store.
“We also found two legitimate apps unrelated to Ghost Push that the same creators published on Google Play, which have since been removed,” they said, explaining that these apps accumulated some 10,000 downloads before being pulled.
“These show that this group possesses ample technical knowledge to effectively victimise thousands of devices and evade detection,” Yang and Pan said.
Once a device is infected the malware can launch other applications and services and steal personal information.