Lithium-Ion Batteries to Power a New Class of Mercedes-Benz Hybrids
We have learned that Mercedes-Benz has announced plans to produce the first hybrid cars with powerful lithium-ion batteries. The cars are slated for the assembly line in 2009. Expect Mercedes-Benz to unveil additional details this week concerning the new car battery to be used in the luxury S-class line of hybrids.
You can read about what we know so far at AMG Market | Mercedes-Benz Enthusiasts.
This is a significant advancement in battery technology when compared to the nickel batteries used in the Toyota Prius. Sources claim the nickel batteries in the Prius have about a five year life before they need to be replaced, which costs the owner upwards of $5,000. If true, the resale values of the Prius with original batteries will plumet in the coming years.
Toyota hopes to eventually replace the old nickel batteries with the lithium ion, as an article in Businessweek stated: “Yet Toyota should soon be giving the environmental lobby something to cheer about. In an interview with BusinessWeek on Feb. 16, Chief Executive Katsuaki Watanabe confirmed that Toyota’s third-generation hybrid cars, due out in late 2008 or early 2009, will use lithium-ion batteries.” (source: Toyota Prius Battery); website includes extensive info on the Prius batteries).
Toyota has previously delayed making the switch due to safety concerns even though the change could result in significant improvements to the Prius. Conversion kits are reportedly available in the aftermarket today. Using a battery made by Hymotion and A123 systems, you can get an aftermarket kit that converts the Prius into a plug-in hybrid. Subsequent to the conversion, one can drive up to 40 miles at the beginning of a trip on electric power alone. With the kit installed, the company claims drivers can expect 150 MPG city and 100 MPG highway.
Back in February of this year, Treehugger.com reported on the manufacturing facility slated to produce the batteries for Mercedes-Benz:
John Reed in the Financial Times reports that Johnson Controls and Saft, a U.S. supplier group and French battery producer, respectively, are set to break ground on a factory dedicated to the exclusive production of advanced lithium-ion batteries for cars. The facility, which will supply a range of automakers, including GM, Chrysler and Mercedes-Benz, is based in Nersac, France; its yearly production capacity will initially be 5,000 battery packs with the option to scale up if demand warrants it.