Friday, August 10, 2007

Toyota Backs Off Lithium Ion

via The Truth About Cars by Frank Williams on Aug 09, 2007Toyota is delaying introducing lithium-ion battery-powered hybrids because of safety concerns. Forbes reports that the Japanese automaker is hanging fire (so to speak) due to worries that the cells might overheat or explode. Toyota doesn't expect to have hybrids with Li-Ion batteries until 2011. They've also delayed plans for Tundra and Sequoia hybrids. Whether or not this will affect GM's hopes of lithium-ion powered Volt is yet to be seen. Meanwhile, commenting on an earlier TTAC post, Tesla spinmeister Darryl Siry claims their Roadster's Li-ion battery pack passed UN and DOT protocols for safety "when shipping" which "can actually be harsher than safety when in a car."

I can't believe someone would actually be quoted as saying "shipping" is "harsher than safety when in a car". What exactly does that mean? I would bet that every li-ion battery pack shipped is safely bubble-wrapped to prevent that famous "damage during shipment", yet you don't see too many bubble-wrapped vehicles driving the roads these days. Li-ion batteries have to withstand the harsh abuse of American drivers, accidents on the road, and under-trained technicians. Hope Toyota has taken that all into account.
Also - wonder if a similar effect would occur with the new li-ion tools coming to market recently? From the December, 2006 issue of TechShop, our editors wrote, "Lithium ion is not as durable as NiCd, and can be dangerous if damaged". However, according to the tool manufacturers, most have taken this into consideration when they were developing the components of the tools and have protected the batteries accordingly.
What has been your experience? Let us know!

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