Michigan advanced battery maker Cobasys on edge of bankruptcy

Discussion in 'In the News' started by Right Lane Cruiser, May 22, 2009.

  1. Right Lane Cruiser

    Right Lane Cruiser Penguin of Notagascar

    [​IMG] "There is no assurance that Cobasys' existing customer funding support will continue."

    [FIMG=LEFT]http://www.cleanmpg.com/photos/data/501/Cobasys_Battery_Pack.jpg[/FIMG]Sven Gustafson - Michigan Business Review - May 20, 2009

    Might this mean we could finally get those batteries we've been asking for?? --Ed.

    An advanced battery manufacturer that previously featured in the Michigan's "Upper Hand" economic development advertising campaign appears to be teetering on the verge of bankruptcy.

    Cobasys LLC, based in Oakland County's Orion Township, was one of the early pioneers of nickel-metal hydride battery technology. Its batteries power gas-electric hybrid versions of the Saturn Aura and Vue and the Chevrolet Malibu.

    But it has spent the past 20 months trying to sort through a product recall, a lawsuit by German carmaker Daimler AG and a long-simmering disagreement over funding between its corporate parents.

    Now, the company appears to be further adrift after General Motors, once said to be mulling an acquisition of the battery maker, reportedly no longer is considering a purchase and Cobasys has apparently retained bankruptcy counsel.

    The latest news comes from a May 11 regulatory filing made by Rochester Hills-based Energy Conversion Devices Inc. [Nasdaq:ENER], Cobasys' parent owner along with Houston-based Chevron Technology Ventures LLC.

    Neither Cobasys nor Chevron returned messages left seeking comment.

    The battery maker has been caught in funding limbo since September 2007, when Chevron Technology Ventures filed arbitration claims against ECD's Ovonic Battery Corp. subsidiary. Chevron asserted damages totaling $162 million and other relief, alleging among other things that the alternative energy company withheld funding for Cobasys.

    The two sides suspended arbitration in February 2008 to pursue a sale to GM, ECD said in its quarterly earnings report with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

    But the automaker in March of this year notified ECD and Chevron it would not purchase Cobasys and "began to curtail its funding support," according to the filing. A GM spokeswoman did not return calls seeking confirmation, but... [RM]http://blog.mlive.com/svengustafson/2009/05/advanced_battery_maker_cobasys.html[/RM]
     
  2. Chuck

    Chuck just the messenger

    Their ads have played a lot on EcoModder.

    I know some will shed crocodile tears if GM or Chrysler goes into oblivion, but I'd really hate to see Cobasys bitting the dust.
     
  3. greenrider

    greenrider Well-Known Member

    Isn't their product of exceptionally poor quality? The Cobyasis batteries were responsible for the failure to deliver GM hybrids for the majority of the last model year, if I remember correctly. It will be unfortunate to see them go, but if Coby is replaced or purchased by a manufacturer with more reputable quality, it will be worth it.
     
  4. hobbit

    hobbit He who posts articles

    If I recall right it's Cobasys units that are in the Rav4-EV,
    many of which are still on the road with undiminished original
    battery capacity. You know, the large-format NiMH that nobody
    can get anymore.
    .
    If the numbnuts ever clued in on selling direct to the public
    and the EV enthusiast market, they might have survived. Back room
    deals aren't the only way to turn a profit, and they really owe
    it to the electric-propulsion community after squatting on those
    stupid patents prohibiting anybody from competing with them all
    those years.
    .
    I have *no* sympathy for those clowns. They blew it, they go down.
    .
    _H*
     
  5. Right Lane Cruiser

    Right Lane Cruiser Penguin of Notagascar

    Actually, those are Panasonic units (IIRC), and they were sued by Cobasys to stop production.

    I really hope this causes a release of patent restraints in the near future.
     
  6. Radio_tec

    Radio_tec Tell AAA, Saving gas saves America!

    If that's true, and I'm not sure that it is, that would be regrettable. Cobasys, formerly Ovonics, was the company that made the NiMH batteries that went into the GM EV-1 and extended its range from 60 miles to 90-110 miles on a charge. The batteries were used in the Saturn Aura but what problems I am aware of were production and supply problems. I wouldn't be surprised to find out that Chevron was using Cobasys as a cash cow while putting back in enough for it to barely survive.

    The battery maker has been caught in funding limbo since September 2007, when Chevron Technology Ventures filed arbitration claims against ECD's Ovonic Battery Corp. subsidiary. Chevron asserted damages totaling $162 million and other relief, alleging among other things that the alternative energy company withheld funding for Cobasys.

    If this is true I would be, "Shocked! Shocked," to find that an oil company would kill the only battery company capable of supplying EVs with fully capable, reliable, real world tested batteries.


    Stan Ovshinksy seems like a nice guy too. He invented those batteries and its a damn shame that GM's short term thinking and Chevron's neglect killed one of the few heroes in the EV documentary, "Who Killed the Electric Car."

    As for the Rav 4, those batteries were Panasonic NiMH batteries but Cobasys sued Panasonic and it was, apparently, successful because Panasonic stopped making them.

    In 2014 the NiMH patent expires and any company that wants to can make them. Some companies like Nilar have been making NiMhs they claim are suitable for EVs but the energy density is laughable in comparison to Cobasys NiMH batteries.
     
    Last edited: May 24, 2009
  7. PaleMelanesian

    PaleMelanesian Beat the System Staff Member

    I Am Not A Lawyer, but if I understand patent law correctly, they can develop and make them, just not sell them. That means that the day after the patent expires, they could have an inventory ready to be released. I relish that thought.
     

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