Company Says Its Software Boosts EV Battery Range
By DANNY KING June 27, 2011
A Massachusetts software maker recently awarded $25,000 by the state of Michigan for its work on a software-based control system that the company says can boost automobile batteries’ power by at least 25 percent, plans to open a Michigan facility next year io develop the system for use with the lithium-ion batteries used with most electric-drive vehicle batteries and the nickel-metal hydride batteries used in most hybrid cars and SUVs. Clean Energy Innovations, founded in 2009 in Michigan but now based in Fall River, Mass., was awarded the so-called Great Lakes Entrepreneur’s Quest Emerging Business grand prize this year for its software system, initially developed for mobile-phone batteries.
CEI, which plans to make the cell-phone product available to the public next year, said it will select a southeast Michigan site by the end of the year for a technical center for automotive and industrial applications that will open in in 2012. The company says its software program helps control the rate of internal resistance and heat buildup during discharge, which allows for a more efficient delivery of energy to the vehicle. CEI will employ as many as 50 people at the Michigan technical center by 2016, CEO Larry LaFranchi told AutoObserver.
CEI is joining a growing list of startups looking to benefit from the expected surge in electric-drive vehicle production and sales over the next few years. Michigan-based Center for Automotive Research projected in a January report that U.S. electric-drive vehicle sales will increase to about 140,000 units in 2014 from about 30,000 this year, while Pike Research has estimated that North Americans will buy about 300,000 PHEVs and BEVs in 2015, up from about 50,000 this year. CEI is looking to build business with U.S. automakers by addressing the effort to make electric-vehicle batteries more efficient, which would make electric-drive vehicles more competitive with conventional cars by offering a single-charge range that’s closer to the 200-300 miles the typical conventional car gets on a tank of gas. Nissan and Mitsubishi are this year offering electric vehicles with a single-charge range of between 80 and 100 miles, and automakers and battery manufacturers are looking to double that range over the next few years.