Joint Venture to Produce Environmentally Friendly Batteries

Two U.S. companies will develop advanced nickel metal hydride batteries for widespread commercial production and to develop them for non-automotive applications.

TROY, Michigan, US, 2001-07-27 [SolarAccess.com] Two U.S. companies will develop advanced nickel metal hydride batteries for widespread commercial production and to develop them for non-automotive applications. Texaco Energy Systems Inc. and Ovonic Battery Company, Inc. have formed Texaco Ovonic Battery Systems to invest $150 million over the next few years to develop batteries that power electric vehicles and hybrids. Ovonic is a subsidiary of Energy Conversion Devices, which is the inventor of NiMH battery technology. “Texaco is committed to the development and marketing of energy technologies, and this venture is a key part of our strategy,” says senior vice president William Wicker. “ECD has staked out a leadership position in nickel metal hydride batteries, and we intend to leverage the strengths of both ECD and Texaco to take advantage of the vast market opportunity in automotive, telecommunication and uninterruptible power supply applications.” NiMH batteries have higher power and longer life than conventional batteries, as well as reduced environmental impact, longer life cycles and can be produced in high volume. Texaco will funding NiMH battery activities with more than $150 million and the joint venture will significantly increase its existing manufacturing facilities in Kettering, Ohio, and its development facilities in Troy, Michigan. “We are pleased to expand our relationship with Texaco, which has proven to be a leader in advanced energy development,” say ECD president and CEO Stanford Ovshinsky and chairman Robert Stempel. “With the projected growth in the HEV market, Texaco Ovonic Battery Systems looks forward to offering ECD’s NiMH battery technology to the worldwide automotive market as well as developing it for non-automotive applications.” In 1992, the U.S. Department of Energy funded a consortium of auto manufacturers to develop NiMH batteries. “The Department of Energy’s successful public-private partnership with ECD and Ovonic Battery to develop nickel metal hydride batteries for electric and hybrid vehicles has reached the exciting stage of commercialization,” says Energy secretary Spencer Abraham. “This technology’s improved range and good performance offers significant potential to help create a domestic advanced battery industry.” General Motors has designated the new company as a preferred supplier for its NiMH battery requirements for EVs and other automotive applications. Last year, ECD teamed with N.V. Bekaert S.A. of The Netherlands to work through United Solar Systems and Bekaert ECD Solar Systems to manufacture PV cells for the UNI-SOLAR® brand. They are building a solar plant with annual capacity of 25 MW.
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