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This week we talk a bit more about our EVTV test bench. This is going to come slowly but I think is a necessary part of our Cadillac EXT project and will be quite useful in the future as well. It’s kind of like building a really slow electric car, with extra instrumentation and controls.

The rest of the show is mostly about our battery pack. We talk a little bit about the various and generally confused Lithium Ion battery chemistries, why it matters, and what really causes the decrease in capacity over time when using these cells, which have a MUCH longer life cycle than the cells we routinely see them confused with online.

The confusion between these chemistries puzzles me no end and I guess I think a lot of those online and even some of our viewers have kind of missed the point. BECAUSE the U.S. battery developers don’t really have a production line, they are generally just trying to sell Intellectual Property upstream, we have all kind of stumbled onto the Chinese suppliers of “lithium” cells. This has been most fortuitous and I don’t want any of you to miss the point.

In my estimation, the LiFePo4 type chemistry is THE most ideally appropriate for vehicle use at this time. We kind of lucked into it by availability. And I actually see a segment of our community lusting after Lithium Cobalt Oxide and Lithium Manganese Oxide chemistries for their greater energy density and because larger entities such as Nissan, Chevy, and Tesla are using them.

It is my unqualified, but nonetheless strongly held opinion that generally THEY are going in the WRONG direction and WE by accident of availability have landed on the much superior solution. Our cells will last 10X longer, endure much more in the way of misuse and vehicle vibration, temperature extremes, and general bashing about, with an order of MAGNITUDE greater safety, at only a slight penalty in energy density. We did not brilliantly deduce this, but rather lucked into it. I have always been clear on this – it is BETTER to be LUCKY than SMART.

These cells are leggo blocks of amazing capacity. And they will last for tens of years – making the paltry 200,000 mile demonstrated endurance of the truly finicky NiMHd cells look like disposables.

ANd so we also announce our selection of the Winston Battery Company WB-LYP400AHA cell as the official battery of the 2008 Cadillac Elescalade EXT conversion.

We would also like to thank the Winston Battery Company Ltd for sponsoring EVTV over the next year and additionally for the contribution of the 70 400 AH cells specifically for the Elescalade. This marks kind of a leap in a number of ways. Ultimately, EVTV must be advertiser supported and the addition of such a major sponsor alters the landscape somewhat dramatically in favor of our continued operation.

But it’s also a kind of sea change in the marketing of Chinese products in the United States. We were privileged to correspond directly with Mr. Chung on this topic and found him remarkably progressive and insightful on this topic. It is not precisely the Chinese way, but Mr. Chung is making a number of moves in the U.S. He is a true believer in the necessity of altering transportation for clean energy and battery power and has been in the battery game since 1982 with his invention then of a maintenance free lead acid cell. He actually holds his own patent on the LYP cell which essentially removes him from the patent wars over the Goodenough patent.

More recently, he has acquired a 48% stake in U.S. company Balqon who now serves as their exclusive distributor in the United States. And he’s provided a $10 million endowment to the Bourns College of Engineering at University of California Riverside.

We would present Winston Battery as sponsor as a direct acknowledgement that Winston Battery is aware of what you, our viewers, are doing in Universities, entreprenurial developers, and individual garages and shops all over the country and that they wholeheartedly approve of and encourage such activities where and how they can. They are completley aware of you as a market for their cells, the difficulties you’ve had purchasing them in the past, and they are working to address that in every way possible. It’s all about you.

Another area of constant interest is selection of a car for conversion. My theory has been that you need to select a good car to start with if you intend to wind up with a good electric car in the end. This has been emotionally tested in the past. We winced hard in starting a conversion with a brand new 2009 Mini Cooper Clubman. It was just that good with an internal combustion engine in it that we discussed the crime we were about to commit before we ever first drained the tank. And I have to tell you the first steps were tremulous.

Worse, we encountered no end of difficulties and missteps in selecting suppliers and components for the car, and indeed had to redo our own design of the mounting structure and adapter for the drive train. We’ve lost cells to parasitic loads from instrumentation. And we’ve even found it difficult to learn all the buried features in this car. Further, we’ve never quite finished it. I still think I can get the fuel gage on this car to work – somehow. We still need to build an OBDII spoofer to turn off the check engine light, the tire pressure light, etc. I still want to integrate brake pressure with our controller, and tie the air conditioning compressor and water heater more closely and automatically to the environmental system.

ALl that said, I have used this car as my daily driver through this winter, and it may be the most delightful car I’ve ever owned in essentially ALL respects. It has all the modern conveniences, and is as smooth and quiet as I’ve ever experienced. Smooth acceleration is very pleasing. And I’ve got all the creature comforts. Our heating system actually works very well, and seems to keep the controller and motor cool at the same time. My point is, by selecting a GOOD car to start with, we wind up with an EXCELLENT car in electric drive.

And this takes us to the Elescalade. I already REALLY like this car. And I’m hesitant to crack it open and convert it. But knowing what we’ve learned from the Mini, that’s a GOOD sign of good things to come.

Stay with us on the journey….

Jack Rickard