Honda is working on a solution for old, end-of-life EV batteries
The company is working with American Electric Power to supplement municipal power grids with the battery packs from older electric vehicles. As battery electric vehicles become increasingly common on our roads, the problem of what to do with their complicated, resource-intensive batteries becomes a much more significant concern.
Some have proposed turning old EV batteries into domestic backup batteries, or municipal ones, or chargers for other EVs. Honda, alongside its partner American Electric Power (AEP), has some ideas and it's currently conducting its own research into what should be done with end-of-life batteries, which it announced last Wednesday.
One of the biggest areas of Honda's study is in using the batteries to supplement the power grid during high demand. For example, as EVs become more commonplace, it's likely that early evening will be a time of high strain on the power grid as people come home from work and plug their cars in at home. A large array of these older EV batteries could store energy during the day when the system is under less demand or when renewable energy sources like solar or wind are making excess power, and act as a ballast for the grid when that demand ramps up. "Together with AEP, we are exploring opportunities to use the second life battery to improve energy security, reduce CO2, and prepare for broad-scale electrification of the transportation ecosystem," said Ryan Harty, manager of Connected and Environmental Business, American Honda, in a statement. "Neither automakers nor utilities can address these complex technical, policy and business issues alone."
Honda plans to use the batteries from its now-discontinued Fit EV to power its pilot program with AEP.
General Motors Co said on Monday most of its global models will be capable of over-the-air software upgrades by 2023, as the automaker rolls out new vehicle electrical systems designed to securely handle heavy data traffic and software downloads from the internet. GM and other established automakers have been slow to catch up with electric automaker Tesla Inc, which has for years used smartphone-style over-the-air upgrade technology to change the function and feel of its vehicles overnight. Earlier this month, for example, Tesla responded to reports about its vehicles catching on fire by pushing out an over-the-air update for battery management software. GM executives have said in the past that matching Tesla’s use of over-the-air updates would require new vehicle electrical systems, and robust cybersecurity to assure that vehicles could not be tampered with by hackers.
GM did not specify what vehicle systems and features would be open to over-the-air updates, but said the new system “enables the adoption of functionality upgrades throughout the lifespan of the vehicle.”
In 2016, GM President Mark Reuss, who at that time was head of global product development, said the company would not use over-the-air updates for safety-critical systems such as brakes.
The new GM electronic systems will be capable of handling up to 4.5 terabytes of data processing power per hour, five times the capability of current GM vehicles, the company said in a statement.
The new GM electrical systems will be launched on the 2020 Cadillac CT5 sedan, due to begin production later this year, GM said.
The Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association said it is "profoundly disappointed" by U.S. President Donald Trump’s declaration that imported vehicles and parts threaten national security, echoing a statement made just days ago by Toyota Motor Corp. Although the comments are unusually strong, the source is no surprise: Toyota President Akio Toyoda is also chairman of JAMA, the influential trade group. "We are dismayed to hear a message suggesting that our long-time contributions of investment and employment in the U.S. are not welcomed," Toyota said in a statement Tuesday. "As chairman, I am deeply saddened by this decision."
Daimler’s outgoing chief executive said on Wednesday that all of the luxury carmaker’s costs were under review as he expressed dissatisfaction with the group’s profitability as it invests heavily in electric cars. "Everything is under scrutiny: fixed and variable costs, material and personnel costs, investment projects, vertical integration, and the product range," Dieter Zetsche said in a statement ahead of Daimler's annual general meeting in Berlin.
BMW AG Chief Executive Officer Harald Krueger’s job is on the line over concerns he’s not aggressive enough in steering the luxury carmaker’s titanic shift toward electric and autonomous vehicles, people familiar with the matter said. Some supervisory board members are questioning whether he’s the right choice to lead the company and will discuss the CEO’s second-term prospects in the coming weeks, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing confidential deliberations. Krueger’s current tenure ends next May, with an announcement on his future due in June or July.
The math doesn't seem to add up. Analyst Adam Jonas of Morgan Stanley is among those who say Ford Motor Co. cannot reach its stated profit goals for "Smart Redesign" by laying off just 7,000 salaried workers total worldwide by August. The company must cut "a further" 23,000 salaried jobs in the near term to fulfill its goals, Jonas wrote Tuesday.
Source: Detroit Free Press
Tesla Model S fires caught on video prompt software updates to battery management system as Tesla investigates
Tesla has beamed out an over-the-air update for the Model S and Model X to increase safe battery operation after an investigation into a Model S fire in a parking garage that was caught on video. A surveillance video emerged in late April and quickly went viral, showing a Model S bursting into flames in a Shanghai parking lot structure; the blaze occurred when the car was not charging and appeared unprompted by any external factors. Tesla was reported to have sent a team to investigate the fire but has not commented on possible causes of the blaze, which looked more like an explosion. Industry observers quickly pointed to possible heat management issues with the car's battery pack because the smoke and the subsequent fire emerged from the underside of the car.
The Shanghai Model S fire was followed by another Model S fire in Hong Kong earlier this month, in which the sedan caught fire under similar unexplained circumstances and required firefighters almost an hour to extinguish. "As we continue our investigation of the root cause, out of an abundance of caution, we are revising charge and thermal management settings on Model S and Model X vehicles via an over-the-air software update that will begin rolling out today, to help further protect the battery and improve battery longevity," Tesla said in a statement late last week.
Tesla vehicles use a cooling ribbon with glycol liquid woven around the individual cylinder-shaped battery cells, made by Panasonic, in its battery pack. The older Model S used one continuous cooling ribbon, snaking around the hundreds of individual cells and cycling glycol coolant in and out. A second-gen battery module, on the other hand, used two cooling ribbons and the battery cells were now attached to the cooling tubes by glue, which improved the effectiveness of the ribbon. The current Model 3 uses a further improved system of a total of seven ribbons of much shorter lengths to cycle coolant around the cells -- a significant improvement over the original Model S cooling system design. "Tesla battery packs are engineered with a state-of-the-art design so that in the very rare instance a fire does occur, it spreads very slowly and vents heat away from the cabin, alerting occupants that there is an issue and giving them enough time to exit the vehicle," the automaker said in announcing the over-the-air update. The cooling system is essential in keeping temperatures down during recharging, and operates automatically, with cars using Battery Management System software to make decisions about cooling cycles.
The software updates will tune the thermal management settings and charge settings in the two models, but Tesla did not provide details about just how the cooling system operation will be altered. "We currently have well over half a million vehicles on the road, which is more than double the number that we had at the beginning of last year, and Tesla’s team of battery experts uses that data to thoroughly investigate incidents that occur and understand the root cause," the automaker added. "Although fire incidents involving Tesla vehicles are already extremely rare and our cars are 10 times less likely to experience a fire than a gas car, we believe the right number of incidents to aspire to is zero."
While the latest fires are under investigation, years ago, Tesla had to address a different root cause of several battery pack fires after several early Model S sedans suffered battery pack punctures after driving over various pieces of road debris. In response, Tesla tweaked the lowest permitted suspension settings to raise the vehicle's ride height and also attached titanium underbody shields to existing cars to beef up battery pack protection.
General Motors Co. faces pushback over its request that U.S. regulators waive some automobile safety standards to make it possible to deploy a ride-sharing fleet of driverless cars without steering wheels or other human controls. GM first made the request for a two-year temporary waiver on features like mirrors, dashboard warning lights, and turn signals designed for a human driver in a petition filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in January 2018. The largest U.S. automaker said it hoped to deploy no more than 2,500 modified Chevrolet Bolt electric vehicles as part of a controlled on-demand ride-sharing fleet, likely to be based in San Francisco, by the end of 2019.