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Who Owns The Patent On That Battery in My Electric Car?

Posted in Electric Cars by David | May 31st, 2008 | 13 Responses |

You ever wonder what is holding back the development of All Electric Vehicles? I’d point to battery technology. Specifically it has a lot to do with battery technology. Large nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries to be exact.

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Here’s some interesting history:
“In 1994, General Motors acquired a controlling interest in Ovonics’s battery development and manufacturing, including patents controlling the manufacturing of large nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries. In 2001, Texaco purchased GM’s share in GM Ovonics. A few months later, Chevron acquired Texaco. In 2003, Texaco Ovonics Battery Systems was restructured into Cobasys, a 50/50 joint venture between Chevron and Energy Conversion Devices (ECD) Ovonics. Chevron’s influence over Cobasys extends beyond a strict 50/50 joint venture. Chevron holds a 19.99% interest in ECD Ovonics. Chevron also maintains veto power over any sale or licensing of NiMH technology. In addition, Chevron maintains the right to seize all of Cobasys’ intellectual property rights in the event that ECD Ovonics does not fulfill its contractual obligations.” via Wikipedia

Much of what holds up the development of Electric Cars is patents that are held by one of the world’s largest oil companies.

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13 Responses

  1. Ron says:

    Yup, you’re bang on. Chevron’s stonewalling patent on large NiMH batteries will expire in 2014. By then Lithium based batteries will be well established. Go figure.

  2. Gary says:

    Interesting, even though NiMH is not the principle battery being developed for electric cars, the development of which is hardly being held back. In fact, more battery development is going on right now than at any time since electric cars ran around the streets of U.S. cities over a century ago. The larger, heavier and less efficient NiMH is all but eclipsed by lithium-ion, the principle battery technology being used at present. However, even lithium-ion may be eclipsed soon, by a new lithium-ion technology:

    “In their charged state, lithium-ion batteries are intrinsically unstable,” says Bart Riley, the CTO of A123Systems, a Watertown, Massachusetts, company that is using nanotech research to create a new and safer version of lithium-ion batteries.” http://www.a123systems.com/

  3. Robert says:

    I think all of the stock holders of Chevron stock should immediatley start a class action law suit. Chevron should be making as much money as possible with the NiMH patent it controls. Instead it allows a China manufacturer use the patent to make small batteries. Talk about a foolish company transferring the NiMH battery technology to the Red Chinese! Too bad this company does not care about America’s need for clean transportation. I am sure Chevron can sell fossil fuel for decades to come even if a few NiMH battery powered vehicles are driving around American roads.

  4. Doug says:

    FYI, NiMH batteries are pretty cheap to make and Li-xx are much more expensive. Any conclusions around the fact that Li-xx have higher power densities and therefore the BEST option for every use are greatly mistaken. Large cheap NiMH batteries could be used for some of the lower demanding needs today and move to a better and cheaper technology when they are invented. For instance, Plugin hybrids fit here because they only need a bit more battery storage for 20 mile mixed hybrid-EV range resulting in around 100MPG. Li-XX batteries cost around $10,000 for this lighter demanding use today.

    Everything should be done to put the US oil industry out of business or at the very least, gutted of its power and hold on the US population.

  5. Leonard Scholtissek says:

    At least one Oilman is making a large effort in organizing alternative energy use… Mr. Pickens. Join the Pickens plan as I have.

  6. jay says:

    Patriotic aren’t they? These people should be exposed for the shams they are. Why o why doesn’t anyone call when those Chevron exec’s go on Larry King Live and ask them why they sit on this technology? Are they kept silent? I recently saw Mr green Ed Bagly on the same show as an Chevron exec and he didn’t even ask! Go figure, must want the exposure on the show and afraid to cause any waves…had I known about the show before hand I would have called. Let’s all agree to keep an eye out for these exec’s on TV and get on the phone!

  7. Rodney Barnett says:

    There is no doubt that Chevron is doing all it can to keep America on oil. With the technology we have, the vast majority of Americans could be driving an electric car to and from work where the majority of us drive saving millions of gallons of gas every day. THE PICKENS PLAN is about nothing more than making more money for PICKENS. Pickens don’t care about anything else. You don’t hear him making noise about Chevron releasing the hold on battery manufacture and the encouragement of the production and sale of electric cars do you? No, because that won’t put money in his pocket. However since he does stand to gain significantly from the sale of natural gas and wind power, that is all he cares about. Pickens is using the high cost of oil as a smoke screen to further his own agenda, the increase of his personal wealth. Electric cars worked in the ’90s, and they would work today.

  8. CJ2K says:

    Write to your state representatives. We are too far along with technology to not have policies in place, mandating the use of more sustainable practices for the common good. We would kill more than two birds with this stone: Drastically reduced air pollution (a recent study demonstrated a decrease in cancer rates around capped refineries previously uncapped), No dependence on oil both foreign and domestic, giving the opportunity to divert all oil production to mass transit i.e. buses and airplanes (what happens when we run out of oil if we continue our selfish ways? Is the world expected to stop completely?), new jobs in a fresh auto industry (fuck detroit for sitting with thumb in ass), a new age of American and global health (it’s reasonable to expect that you can go outside without risk to respiratory health, OR SOMEONE SHOULD PAY YOUR MEDICAL BILLS)

  9. Richard says:

    Chevron should be boycotted until they release all rights to NiMH and make it public domain. If NiMH is so dated/inferior to Li then there’s no excuse, but they arent because they know most people wont be able to fork up the huge cost of Li whereas NiMH is cheap and proven (Rav4EV are still running on the original battery a decade later, how many years will Li last?). NiMH isnt any good right? fine, release the patent.

    Boycott Chevron!

  10. […] way to cars in our present day is because oil companies hold the patents to them. According to┬áthis article, in 1994 GM bought into a nickel metal hydride battery manufacturer, but it was quickly taken over […]

  11. Damon says:

    Update!! Cobasys sold Ovshinsky’s NiMH battery patent that old GM controlled, in February 2012. It was sold to BASF, a German company allied with BMW and other companies. BMW is currently in the process of placing the NiMH batteries in the the new i3, which is currently in production. It is actually considered a hybrid with a 3-cylinder engine, and is getting over 100mpg. Eventually, we may one day have an electric car with a small gasoline generator, but BMW had to make a hybrid initially, or its import would have been blocked by our government. Now, maybe people will understand why LG Chem took millions of taxpayer dollars and never made a single battery for electric cars. BMW will be the company that will succeed with electric cars, because our government wouldn’t. By the way, Frank Weber is also the head of their electric car division.