Reporting Matt Roush
By Matt Roush
WWJ Technology Editor
NOVI (WWJ) – One of my former bosses used to joke that the electric car was five years away — and had been all his life.
Well, skeptics really ought to get down to the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi Wednesday or Thursday, the two final days of The Battery Show.
The global show for battery technologies opened Tuesday with more than 160 exhibitors, showing off everything from the basic chemistry involved in battery making to battery cells to full units to control technologies, from software to electronics to cabling.
Most but not all of the exhibitors were involved in automotive batteries, which makes sense, as the Battery Show is being held adjacent to the Automotive Testing Expo. And encouragingly, Michigan companies were evident at every turn of the Battery Show floor.
Lakeshore Advantage, the Holland-based economic development agency, was touting itself as the “Smart Coast,” after nearly $1 billion in battery industry investment in the Holland area from LG Chem, Johnson Controls-Saft, Fortu PowerCell and Toda America. More at www.michigansmartcoast.com.
Midland-based Dow Kokam, a joint venture of Dow Chemical Co., was showing off a converted plug-in electric hybrid Ford F-150 pickup truck. The conversion uses Dow Kokam batteries and control electronics and is manufactured by California-based Quantum Technologies. Like the Chevrolet Volt, it goes 35 miles in all-electric mode before the onboard gasoline engine (in this case, a 3.7-liter V6) kicks on. And like the Volt it’s a no-compromise vehicle, with a payload of nearly 1,000 pounds and a towing capacity of 5,800 pounds.
Chuck Reardon, commercial vice president at Dow Kokam, said the vehicle is still in testing, with the first shipments scheduled for the first half of 2012. Fleet customers will be the inital target market.
Reardon said Dow Kokam is also the battery supplier for a French hybrid bus that will combine diesel, battery and hydraulic technologies.
Reardon added that Dow Kokam’s Midland Battery Park will create 320 new high-tech jobs in its first phase.
Albion-based Patriot Solar Group was among the non-automotive exhibitors at the Battery Show. This builder of single- and dual-axis mounting brackets for solar cells is branching into complete solar energy units intended for the recreational, emergency services and military markets.
Patriot Solar is building several varieties of “solar trailers” — solar panels that stow in thier own light trailer and can be easily carried to remote locations. Various sizes of trailers provide from 1,000 to 5,000 watts.
Applications include recreational activities, disaster relief, remote medical care, landscaping, construction, remote communication, sporting events, water purification, outdoor lighting for remote construction sites, electric event signs, social events, outdoor ceremonies and more.
Southfield’s Lear Corp. was exhibiting electrical power management systems, including high-voltage wiring, connection units and power management systems.
A123 Systems, the Massachusetts-based battery company with the major Michigan presence, was showing battery modules, cells and systems.
The Battery Show continues through Thursday. More at www.thebatteryshow.com.