Lithium-ion For Golf, Lsv And Industrial Vehicles
Edition: May/June 2012
The most requested subject dealers want me to cover is Lithium-ion batteries for Golf and Industrial vehicles. To date the wet lead acid batteries are in the main stream with AGM and GEL batteries thrown in the mix. Now that the retail cost to replace wet deep cycle batteries is nearly $1,000 per vehicle, combined with the maintenance requirements (watering and terminal cleaning) and fairly short life cycle, the chatter about, low maintenance, longer range Lithium-ion (also known as Li-ion or LIB) batteries is hotter than ever.
The main driver of LIB technology is the high speed electric car industry. This industry needs batteries that will charge quickly; provide thousands of charge cycles, offer a large storage capacity for long range driving and create enough power for high speed use. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA, P.L. 111-5) provided federal financial support to develop a domestic lithium-ion battery supply chain for electric vehicles. By understanding what is driving volume we can appreciate why cost reduction is on the horizon and technology on the rise.
The Congressional Research Service 7-5700 www.crs.gov R41709 reads:
‘In making a national commitment to building electric vehicles and most of their components in the United States, the federal government has invested $2.4 billion in electric battery production facilities and nearly $80 million a year for electric battery research and development.’ They went on to say, ‘Developing appropriate batteries is the biggest challenge to increasing sales of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. Batteries for these vehicles differ substantially from traditional lead-acid batteries used in internal combustion engine vehicles: they are larger, heavier, more expensive, and have safety considerations that mandate use of electronically controlled cooling systems. Various chemistries can be applied, with lithium-ion appearing the most feasible approach at the present time.
The lithium-ion battery supply chain, expanded by ARRA investments, includes companies that mine and refine lithium; produce components, chemicals, and electronics; and assemble these components into battery cells and then into battery packs. Auto manufacturers design their vehicles to work with specific batteries, and provide proprietary cooling and other technologies before placing batteries in vehicles. Most of these operations are highly automated and require great precision. It has been estimated that 70% of the value-added in making lithium-ion batteries is in making the cells, compared with only 15% in battery assembly and 10% in electrical and mechanical components.
Right, wrong or indifferent, the federal governments focus on LIB as the standard for the electric car industry will result in driving down the major cost of making the batteries. Industry leaders believe LIB cost could match lead acid pricing sometime in the next decade.
The advantages of LIB’s are real and here now. The obstacle is cost. Next time we will talk to industry experts who share the insights on where we stand today and where we are headed with LIB in the Golf, LSV and Industrial vehicle markets.
Please submit your ideas for topics in future articles to email@example.com.