Nissan collects $650,000 from buyers who just want to be first

Looks like demand is there for the new Nissan Leaf but how many can they build? With this type of excitement and demand around vehicles like the Leaf and the upcoming Chevy Volt electric cars might finally be for real in the marketplace. Both companies need to answer the call and get these machines rolling off the assembly lines early and often.


In three days, U.S. consumers gave $656,865 to Nissan for the chance to buy a Leaf electric sedan when it arrives in December.

Ain’t capitalism grand.

Starting on Tuesday, April 20, consumers could pony up $99 for what was called a refundable reservation fee. By Friday morning, 6,635 would-be buyers had charged the fee to their credit cards.

For their money, they got…well, nothing, really.

This is not a deposit on the car. It doesn’t count against the $32,780 sticker price.

Read the full article here.

Photo from fOTOGLIF


Tesla sticking with laptop battery cells


Tesla will not make any immediate changes to the battery for it’s new sedan.

Large format battery cells will slowly gain a foothold on the automotive EV market in the coming years. Companies such as LG Chem, A123 Systems, and EnerDel have been hard at work developing the large format automotive specific batteries, but Tesla still insists that the laptop format, as used in their Roadster, is the best thing going right now.

According to Tesla, the laptop battery offers proven performance at an affordable price. With mass production of this type of battery ongoing for several decades now, the technology has advanced beyond that of current large format batteries. As Tesla has indicated, the mass economies that surround laptop batteries have increased competition, driven technological advances, and reduced prices making them perfectly suitable for cars.

Tesla recently received a loan from the federal government, and it will be interesting to see how he battery issue plays out over time.

Tesla Motors, an electric-car company in California that sells a high-end roadster, will use some of $465 million in loans now to build a plant in Southern California to make its new Model S sedan. The rest will be used later for a plant in Northern California to make battery packs and electric drivetrains to be used in other carmakers’ vehicles.


Lithium-ion car batteries


With the potential emergence of plug-in hybrids and electric cars, many expect them to be powered by lithium-ion cells, and it will be interesting to see if American producers can compete with Asian companies.

Should Uncle Sam provide billions in loans and grants to a promising but unproven business? Or should the government wait for the market to sort things out before it backs a U.S. company? The risk is that by then another major industry could go the way of memory chips, digital displays, the first solar panels, and the original lithium-ion batteries used in notebook PCs and cell phones. American scientists, funded by federal dollars, were at the forefront of each of those. Yet the industries—and the high-paying manufacturing jobs that go with them—quickly ended up in Asia. U.S. labor costs and taxes drove many operations abroad, but often industries fled simply because Asian governments, banks, and companies were more willing than Americans to risk big capital investments.

This time federal help could be on the way. Battery makers are expected to get some of the $25 billion set aside last year under Washington’s Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program to speed the commercialization of green cars. EnerDel, a subsidiary of Ener1, has applied for a loan to build a plant capable of making 600,000 batteries a year. Rival A123 of Watertown, Mass., wants $1.8 billion to build a car-battery factory in Michigan. Under the $790 billion stimulus package under debate in Congress, U.S. lithium-ion makers also could compete for $2 billion in grants to fund research and development and manufacturing.

The Obama administration is determined to assist the development of next-generation cars in the United States, and Obama has said he wants to see them built here. The new stimulus package and the programs referred to above will be just the beginning. We can expect significant government support as many view plug-in vehicles and electric cars as critical to our future economic security. It lessens our dependence on foreign oil and can help to save domestic manufacturing.


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