Altairnano: The Real Deal
By EV World
Maybe we all can finally stop being skeptics.
I've looked into the eyes of Altairnano's Alan Gotcher and Phoenix Motorcar's Dan Elliott and both have personally assured me that Altairnano's lithium titanate battery chemistry is the real deal, but it's hard not to be skeptical. After all, both Gotcher and Elliott, whose company uses Altair's Nanosafe lithium ion battery in the all-electric sport utility truck pictured above, have vested interests in putting the best face on the technology.
But as far as I know, AeroVironment in Monrovia, California, has no such interest.
Charles Botford gave EV World a heads up last week that he'd have important news to report about Altairnano's battery. Besides building UAVs for the military, and industrial fast chargers, the company also tests batteries, and last week it hosted a test for members of the California Air Resources Board that demonstrated Altairnano and Phoenix Motorcar's claim that the battery can be recharged in less than 10 minutes time, and do so without deleterious effect on the battery.
According to Botsford's testimony, which you can listen to along with that of Dan Elliott, Ken Boshart, Evan House and Robert Pedraza using the MP3 players above, his company has been quietly testing the batteries, first at the cell level, then at the module level and finally at the pack level. To date, AVinc, has run 50 ten-minute fast charging cycles at the module level with a 120-minute discharge to simulate travel at 60 mph, So far, the module has shown no degradation whatsoever, which leads AVinc to conclude that pack life appears to be following the extended cycle life they've observed at the cell level.
AeroVironment's findings appear to confirm Altairnano's claims that the battery should be good for tens of thousands of cycles equivalent to 500,000 miles of vehicle travel.
The second big piece of news was Dan Elliott's announcement that an upgraded battery pack is in the works that should give their SUT a range of between 200-250 miles. The current projected range is 130 miles for a vehicle with a top speed of 95 mph. He also stated that as long as CARB doesn't change the current system of ZEV credits, his company will be able to sell vehicles by 2009 without the benefit of any government incentives.
Altairnano's Evan House said the company knows how to get the price of its batteries down and offered the company's chemistry to other battery manufacturers.
However, in a classic 'good cop/bad cop' play to the Board, Robert Pedraza warned that if CARB changes the ZEV credit system that is helping Phoenix buy early and very expensive versions of Altairnano's batteries, that Altair may be forced to re-evaluate the EV market and shift its focus to stationary battery applications instead.
Finally, Ken Boshart made the case that if the Board continues to favor fuel cell technology, it will be supporting technology that will bring little economic benefits to the State, whereas, battery electric car companies including Phoenix, Tesla, Miles and ZAP are creating jobs in the state right now.
We had to do a little editing to get all five speakers on the same MP3 file, but we felt together they tell a compelling story, We thank ARB for webcasting the meeting. Watch for more testimony, as well as the official report from the ZEV expert panel, which we'll feature in the coming days.