Monthly Archives: Março 2012

Toyota And BMW Developing Next-Generation Battery



Hoping to improve lithium-ion battery chemistries, and to share wealth regarding diesel technology as well, Toyota Motor Corp and BMW AG have reportedly begun joint research into next-generation batteries.

In this East-meets-West match, BMW stands to gain from Asia’s largest automaker which has pioneered and now dominates in the hybrid category – expertise BMW needs to stay competitive with Volkswagen AG’s Audi luxury car division.

Similarly, Toyota also wants to improve its position in Europe by expanding on its diesel engine lineup. BMW has agreed to supply Toyota Europe with oil-burning powerplants beginning in 2014, according to Automotive News.

BMW confirmed today that the two companies are now working under a formal memorandum of understanding based on a partnership first announced Dec. 1, 2011.

Both companies are technological powerhouses, and while today’s news is essentially about Europe, with U.S. growth in automotive electrification – and perhaps also diesels – in coming years this agreement could see benefits to products eventually delivered here.



Fisker Karma Battery Packs To Be Switched


Not long ago, Fisker Automotive took a public relations hit when a Karma battery failed during a Consumer Reports test, but its battery maker A123 Systems has now accepted responsibility and will replace all affected Karma packs at a cost of about $55 million.

In a press release today, Fisker said it has been working closely with A123 Systems regarding the power loss experienced by Consumer Reports. The problem was traced to the A123 battery pack and both companies immediately established teams to work together to find the root cause.

A123 Systems discovered a latent manufacturing defect in some prismatic cells made in its Livonia, Mich. facility that could result in battery underperformance and decreased durability. As a result, A123 is replacing all impacted battery modules and packs for the Fisker Karma.

Following this discovery, Fisker is implementing upgrades to the VIP Customer Care Coverage included with the purchase of all 2012 model year Karmas. This new initiative will apply both to existing and future 2012 Model Year Karma customers and consists in a complete battery replacement at no cost for all affected 2012 Fisker Karma owners; plus a full vehicle warranty extension from 50 months/50,000 miles to 60 months/60,000 miles in North America. In Europe, coverage will be extended from 48 months/100,000 km to 60 months/100,000 km.

Fisker’s Quality SWAT Team has also been working aggressively on the next-generation vehicle software upgrade to improve customer experience, with a release planned in the next few days.

According to Fisker CEO Tom LaSorda, over 630 Karmas have been delivered to customers in North America and Europe since sales began at the end of last year.


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Opel Ampera Orders Surpass 7,000 units


GM’s European subsidiary, Opel, has found the going tough in recent years. Struggling with high labor costs in its native country Germany and limited opportunity for expansion against such rivals as Volkswagen and Ford, Opel has finally received some good news, at least on the EV front.

Besides winning the coveted European Car of the Year Award at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show, the Opel Ampera, is now doing better than projected on the sales front, with orders having passed the 7,000 mark. According to Opel’s e-mobility launch director Enno Fuchs, “this news shows us that our sales target of 10,000 units for 2012 is well within reach.”

The scenario contrasts with the Ampera’s cousin, the Chevy Volt which has suffered from lower than expected demand in the U.S., not helped by highly publicized battery fire investigations, resulting in the car becoming, what General Motors’ CEO Dan Akerson dubbed “a political punching bag.”

Nonetheless, with GM essentially re-launching the Volt, which includes a plan of meeting demand rather than pegging output to a specific target (like the 10,000 units originally projected last year), the company has ordered a five-week production shutdown of both the Ampera and Volt to “maintain our proper inventory levels,” according to a company spokesman.

The closure was mainly due to U.S. issues over the Volt, but at this juncture, it appears things for the Ampera are still off to a more positive overall reception.

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