Why Aren’t EVs Running On NiMH Batteries? Received this scandalous email from the Vancouver Electric Vehicle Society today and had to share. There are no footnotes or references to sources however its similar to what has been promoted on Who Killed the Electric Car: GM and Chevron which does have some source info. —- Published by VEVA, The tale of GM’s attempted suppression of NiMH, and the hand-off to Standard Oil, is so involved and convoluted, so hidden by secret agreements and subsidiaries, split-off rights and so on, it’d take a legion of lawyers to expose fully, even if the confidential documents and settlement agreements were not hidden. It’s true that GM in 1994 purchased the exclusive worldwide licensing rights for NiMH and then vested these rights in a subsidiary “Joint Venture” called GM-Ovonics, and also true that GM sold its interest in GM-Ovonics plus shares in the parent company ECD (enough to guarantee control of GM-Ovonics and the rights) to Texaco on Oct. 10, 2000. Previously in 2000, ECD’s unit, Ovonics, was granted the unusual honour of Japanese patent protection, setting the stage for the drama that followed. Texaco vested the new assets in its unit “Texaco Technical Ventures”; but on Oct. 16, 2000, Texaco and Chevron (Standard Oil of California) announced their intent to merge. As we all know, this is not done overnight; they were doing Due Diligence for months, or years, belieing the 6-day gap separating GM from is co-conspirator Chevron. After the merger was consummated, in 2001, the unit was renamed Chevron Ovonics Battery Systems (“cobasys”) and a lawsuit was filed by the actual patent holder, ECD-Ovonics against PEVE, Toyota, Panasonic et al; later, cobasys joined and funded the lawsuit because ECD-Ovonics claimed it didn’t have the funds to proceed. Note that the patents themselves are held by ECD-Ovonics but the worldwide exclusive LICENSING rights were the controlling and inhibiting factor. While ECD-Ovonics held the patents, they were unable to license them to anyone without the consent of GM-ovonics and, later, Chevron-Ovonics (cobasys). In Mar., 2002, Toyota announced sale of the EV-95 NiMH-powered RAV4-EV, without trick or any special rights to confiscate and crush them, to the general public. This was seen as an attempt to coerce a settlement from cobasys et al, because Toyota feared that cobasys would not let them use NiMH at all, not even for the Prius. Up until that time, the Toyota RAV4-EV was NOT available for sale AT ANY price, nor were they even available on boomerang leases except to “fleet lease” customers. There was, circa 2001, a few “boutique lease” deals where Toyota RAV4-EV were leased to “fleets of one”, for example, Linda’s that was leased to Stein Optometric, her husband’s business. This brief 6- to 8-month period remains the ONLY occasion where an Electric car was EVER offered to the general public by a member of the Auto Alliance (prior to 1999, the AAMA). In Dec., 2002, Toyota and cobasys announced that they had, circa Nov., 2002, reached an agreement to stop production of the RAV4-EV, EV-95 and other “large format” batteries, not acknowledging fault on either side, and cross-licensing of all rights to NiMH then and in the future in exchange for a one-time payment of $30M from Toyota to cobasys et all, conditioned and tranched on certain events; and restricted use of NiMH for “certain transportation applications”, which we assume meant plug-ins, while allowing use for hybrids that can’t plug in. Chevron retained these rights, even after they sold the rest of cobasys to Samsung/Bosch in response to the Daimler lawsuit which was seeking better access to NiMH for hybrids that can’t plug in (apparently cobasys didn’t even want these used for hybrids that can’t plug in!). To this day, the only company licensed and authorized to use NiMH on plug-ins is Gold Peak, which was grandfathered in; but the GP batteries were never designed for transportation use, i.e., in an EV. Currently, they are being used in PiP conversions by Kim Adelman; GP Lithium batteries are also used, giving over 40 miles of all-electric ride. But endurance is the issue, since NiMH routinely lasts over 180,000 miles in the non-plug-in Prius and some doubt that Lithium is as durable. So why not use NiMH for the plug-in version of the Prius, and why not sell it, as Toyota sold the NiMH RAV4-EV? The only explanation is this patent licensing issue. Toyota managers have privately assured me that the cobasys agreement still binds or is seen to bind Toyota, whether or not it’s just a gentlemen’s agreement, and that it figures importantly in Toyota’s decisions about whether and when to issue plug-in vehicles. Toyota is seen as being reluctant to use Lithium for plug-ins, due to the apparent failure of Lithium to last over 180,000 miles (so far) in the plug-in version of the Prius. Toyota is allowing fleet lease of Lithium plug-in Prius, but not allowing issuance to the public, and not allowing sale, due to this factor. Other battery companies have informed me that they routinely are forced to work around Chevron’s patent rights, which are not available at any price to any company for use on plug-in EVs. The use of NiMH is outrageously still forbidden for the most successful use of that battery, full-function EVs that run entirely upon a large battery pack and allow access to the entire pack (unlike the 16 kWh Lithium pack for the GM product, which only allows access to half due to fear of Lithium battery degradation).