The mysterious story of the battery startup that promised GM a 200-mile electric car

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Thread: The mysterious story of the battery startup that promised GM a 200-mile electric car

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    GMI Canada Editor Premium Member ne_one's Avatar
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    The mysterious story of the battery startup that promised GM a 200-mile electric car

    The mysterious story of the battery startup that promised GM a 200-mile electric car
    Quartz
    December 19, 2013
    by Steve LeVine

    At the end of November 2012, Atul Kapadia and Sujeet Kumar hosted the staff of their startup company for a holiday lunch of Mexican food at a Palo Alto, California restaurant. For days, the pair—the CEO and CTO, respectively, of a lithium-ion battery company called Envia Systems—had awaited an email from General Motors.

    It was to contain a deal rare to an industry newcomer—a contract worth tens and possibly hundreds of millions of dollars to provide the electric central nervous system for two showcase GM models including the next-generation Chevy Volt. Untested small suppliers almost never get in the door of the world’s major automakers, which regard them as too risky to rely on. But GM was won over by what seemed to be the world’s best lithium-ion battery—a cell that, if all went well, would catapult the company to a commanding position in the industry with a middle-class electric car that traveled 200 miles on a single charge and rid motorists of the “range anxiety” that disquieted them about such vehicles.

    A year later, the deal is in tatters, GM has accused Envia of misrepresenting its technology, and a document suggests why the carmaker may be right. The startup’s unraveling is a blow for GM as it transitions to a new regime next month under CEO-designate Mary Barra, setting back its ambitions in the potentially gigantic future electric-car industry. It also risks making Envia, the recipient of several small federal grants, another punching bag for critics of US government funding of advanced battery companies.

    Full article at link.

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    Re: The mysterious story of the battery startup that promised GM a 200-mile electric

    This is obviously not good. Hopefully GM has a plan B.

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    Re: The mysterious story of the battery startup that promised GM a 200-mile electric

    Wonder how much this cost taxpayers.

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    Re: The mysterious story of the battery startup that promised GM a 200-mile electric

    The headline pretty much confirmed my suspicions. Solyndra, anyone? Department of Energy? Pie in the sky pipedreams?
    Yes we can.

    All links seem to lead back to Quartz.

    http://www.nextgov.com/emerging-tech...stments/75720/

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    Re: The mysterious story of the battery startup that promised GM a 200-mile electric

    One would not be surprised to see the new Volt perhaps in 2016, but with less of a price difference than Envia promised. The pure 200-mile electric could launch in 2018 or later...

    GM was perhaps not snookered, but it was credulous when it should have understood the chart in the Crane appraisal, which one must presume it demanded and was provided.
    And yet Akerson has maintained the 200 mile claim as recently as a month ago.

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    Re: The mysterious story of the battery startup that promised GM a 200-mile electric

    So much for GM's "Moon Shot"

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    Re: The mysterious story of the battery startup that promised GM a 200-mile electric

    I find it interesting the the Engineers recommended against Envia, but management decided to go with it anyway.

    Reading through the article and the science I can find about this, anything that claims a 300% improvement would raise huge red flags in the engineering world. Seems they were right to recommend against it, too bad the management groups didn't listen.

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    Re: The mysterious story of the battery startup that promised GM a 200-mile electric

    I am sure GM has alternate plans. This may have been the biggest news one, but it's not GM's only hope.

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    Re: The mysterious story of the battery startup that promised GM a 200-mile electric

    That's the problem with these small start-up companies they promise the world then they can't follow through with their promises. It's critical for GM to practice "caveat emptor" when dealing with such companies.

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    Re: The mysterious story of the battery startup that promised GM a 200-mile electric

    Quote Originally Posted by Twinpeaksr View Post
    I find it interesting the the Engineers recommended against Envia, but management decided to go with it anyway.

    Reading through the article and the science I can find about this, anything that claims a 300% improvement would raise huge red flags in the engineering world. Seems they were right to recommend against it, too bad the management groups didn't listen.
    That's why they're in management. F I mean screw up and move up.

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    Re: The mysterious story of the battery startup that promised GM a 200-mile electric

    Quote Originally Posted by ne_one View Post
    And yet Akerson has maintained the 200 mile claim as recently as a month ago.
    GM currently uses Lithium based chemistry cells from LG Chem (Volt, ELR), Hitachi (eAssist) and A123 (Spark EV) systems in it's current cars. GM is likely working with a number of other companies as well testing various chemistries in their huge battery testing laboratory as we speak.

    As far as batteries go I would bet GM has a plan B, C, D and F in front of them by now.

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    Re: The mysterious story of the battery startup that promised GM a 200-mile electric

    Quote Originally Posted by Neanderthal View Post
    That's why they're in management. F I mean screw up and move up.
    A story I have seen before, score one for Fail upwards.

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    Re: The mysterious story of the battery startup that promised GM a 200-mile electric

    Quote Originally Posted by MechEng View Post
    As far as batteries go I would bet GM has a plan B, C, D and F in front of them by now.
    By the sounds of it, GM likely had immediate suspicions.

    I'm a bit surprised that they terminated the deal, but agreed not to take legal action, demand any money back and they still appear to have a board member at Envia from GM's investment group.

    It makes me wonder if the basis for the technology or at least portions of it may actually be viable.

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    Re: The mysterious story of the battery startup that promised GM a 200-mile electric

    I find it interesting the the Engineers recommended against Envia, but management decided to go with it anyway.
    ALWAYS listen to the engineers. There's a reason they're engineers and you hired them. Management and bean counters may be a necessary evil but in the end, they should be smart enough to listen to what their engineering guys have to say about something so serious.


    As far as batteries go I would bet GM has a plan B, C, D and F in front of them by now.
    Let's hope! I'm still not on the battery bandwagon though. Not yet anyway.

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    Re: The mysterious story of the battery startup that promised GM a 200-mile electric

    Quote Originally Posted by 454SSChevy View Post
    ALWAYS listen to the engineers. There's a reason they're engineers and you hired them. Management and bean counters may be a necessary evil but in the end, they should be smart enough to listen to what their engineering guys have to say about something so serious.
    You got it, too many times it is overlooked that engineers are hired for their knowledge and expertise. Listen to what they say, their technical knowledge can prevent a bad mistake. The business side is important if done right, they keep the engineers in check so that the product is actually commercially viable (IE people can afford it, it can be completed in a reasonable time, etc...) The problem arises when the business side knows a few technical terms and believes they know what they mean, and what it takes to make it reality.

    Reading about what Envia has, I believe that they have a technology that will provide improvements, just not to the scale they claim or in the time they claim. claiming 300% performance improvement for 50% the cost is an obvious red flag to engineers, that is a vary rare accomplishment and usually comes with several caveats (in this case it would only maintain the power density for the first 3 cycles). To the business side it sounds like a great idea that they can profit from.
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