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Electricore awarded $750K for study

Will research the causes of high battery prices in electric vehicles

Posted: June 13, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: June 13, 2013 2:00 a.m.

The Electricore offices located at 27943 Smyth Drive, Suite 105, in Valencia. Electricore was awarded $750,000 from the California Energy Commission for a "battery standardization" study for electric vehicles.

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Electricore Inc. of Valencia was awarded $750,000 from the California Energy Commission for a “battery standardization” study for electric vehicles, said an executive with the firm.

The goal is to see if batteries powering electric vehicles can be standardized to make them interchangeable between all cars, said Deborah Jelen, executive director with Electricore, Inc.

“Battery cost drives the cost of manufacturing up significantly,” Jelen said.

California requires that 15 percent of all new cars sold by 2025 fall in the fully electric or hybrid electric-gasoline category — but studies have shown that the higher prices for these cars have kept the number of registered cars in the state below 5 percent.

Still, California leads the nation in the purchase of new electric and hybrid vehicles, according to analysis of new car registration. It found that 32 percent of all new electric vehicles and 24.7 percent of all new hybrid vehicles sold so far in the U.S. this year were registered in California.

Electricore, a non-profit technology consortium established in 1993, is working on the project with US-based Ricardo, Inc., San Diego Gas & Electric, the California Center for Sustainable Energy and the BMW Group to identify the factors driving the high costs of batteries for plug-in electric vehicles, she said.

Ricardo, Inc. is working on the joint venture, and is the U.S. business of Ricardo plc, which is based in the United Kingdom.

Right now, there are no shared standards between manufacturers, Jelen said.

“Battery packs for a Nissan Leaf and Chevrolet Volt are not interchangeable,” she said.

Ricardo has significant engineering capability and cost models, Jelen said.

The firm, with technical centers in Detroit and Chicago, provides product development consulting to public and private companies throughout the U.S., said Dr. Marc Wiseman, principal for Ricardo Strategic Consulting.

It also designs and develops gasoline, diesel and CNG engines, automotive and commercial vehicle gearboxes, and hybrid and electric vehicles, he said.

A multi-industry consulting company for engineering, technology, project innovation and strategy, Ricardo also provides detailed cost-benefit analysis of different current and future automotive and commercial vehicle technologies, Wiseman said.

Ricardo will be conducting primary interviews of vehicle manufacturers and then using the information to look at costs associated with different factors of standardizing, Jelen said.

“Ricardo is also a design house,” she said. “They’ll be looking at ideas and issues into designs.”

As a result of this project, and another project it is consulting for in the state, Ricardo announced last week that it has registered to become a business entity in California so that it provide greater support for projects on the west coast.

Ricardo has another California project with Quantum, Power Solutions International and The University of California, Riverside that received a $1 million grant provided the California Energy Commission for commercial fleet vehicles such as buses and trucks.

Initially, Ricardo’s Valencia staff will be small but the firm hopes that the number of programs the company supports will help it grow in the near future, Wiseman said.

As California is helping lead the push for efficiency and advancements in green technology, the company said it sees the expansion here as a perfect opportunity for Ricardo to better reach the market.

“With a greater California presence, we will support the development of zero- and near-zero emissions technology for cars and commercial vehicles,” said Tom Apostolos, president of Ricardo Inc.

As for Electricore, the group manages teams comprised of industry experts and specializes in looking at issues that aren’t solved by commercial industry on its own, Jelen said.

It works with team members on various projects that are from the public and private sector — projects with a technical twist, she said.

“Hopefully, through standardization, the purchase price of batteries can be reduced,” she said.




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