• As reported widely in the press, there was a heavy focus on electric or hybrid electric
vehicles at the press and industry preview of this year’s Detroit Auto Show.
• Virtually every exhibitor had some form of electric or hybrid with a lithium-ion battery,
though there were only four Li-ion powered cars exhibited that are or will be in
production in the next twelve months:
– Mercedes S 400
• The Motor Trend car of the year award went to Ford for its Fusion Hybrid which still
uses a nickel based battery. Both Nissan and GM prominently featured their electric
vehicles and had management pointing out the features to the media.
• On the show’s lower level there was test track where journalists could test drive
conventional hybrids and electrics including the Think and the Mitsubishi EV.
• Chevy Volt—GM prominently displayed the Volt among its many offerings at the
show, and like Nissan had managers giving a steady stream of press interviews. GM
also plans to introduce the Volt at the end of 2010.
– The Volt utilizes a battery with prismatic cells. The battery forms a huge T-shape
in the bottom of the vehicle.
– Unlike Nissan Leaf, the Volt battery is liquid-cooled, and GM will roll out the Volt
on a national basis, though volumes are expected to be 5,000 to 10,000 in the
first year. GM’s emphasis seems to be more on reliability, than simplicity, as well
as the ability to drive the car any distance without stopping to recharge.
• Ford—In a presentation organized by Deutsche Bank, Allan Mullaly stressed that
Ford’s emphasis in 2010 will be on gaining market share, selling higher value cars
and reducing costs by creating global platforms.
– Ford plans to introduce a battery electric vehicle but was not specific about the
– Ford did say, in response to an investor question about electrification, that “the
consumer has already made the choice to buy more fuel-efficient, greener cars.
We need to respond.”
• Nissan—Nissan displayed its Leaf in the Electrification Avenue
section of the show. The display included a working demo as well
as a chassis and drive train with a cut-away view of the battery.
– Product managers submitted to a steady stream of press interviews. In the
discussion, they stressed that the car is slated to be introduced at the end of
2010 in approximately 20 cities, mostly in the Western US, including Seattle,
Portland, San Diego, Phoenix and Tucson, where they expected fast-charging
– Volumes in the first year would be in the tens of thousands. They discussed the
technology of the battery in detail: about 200 air-cooled prismatic cells producing
24 kWh, lithium manganese chemistry which produces low levels of heat, a
system that shuts off completely if the car does begin to overheat.
– They stressed the Leaf’s simplicity: it is essentially a large battery covering the
bottom of the vehicle and a very compact electric drive.
Chevrolet Volt, charging from an outlet, has a liquid cooled battery powering an
electric drive. A 4-cylinder gas engine recharges the battery after 40 miles.
Nissan All-Electric Leaf has a 100-mile range per charge Its air-cooled battery
can be charged overnight on a 120 volt outlet or in about a half hour from the
quick charge station depicted.
The Nissan Leaf battery pack takes up much of the underside of the car.
The pack includes about 200 prismatic cells, packaged in groups of four.
Nissan Leaf electric drive mounted at front of chassis.
Prismatic cells are produced by a JV of Nissan and NEC.