As if to underscore that green buyers are at least as affected by the recent downturn as other people, sales of hybrid cars in November tumbled by 50%, back to 2005 levels, while sales of other light-duty vehicles were off by about 37%. Toyota Prius sales were off more than 48%. http://www.greencarcongress.com/2008/12/us-sales-of-hyb.html
Just for comparison purposes, if you combined all the hybrid sales of the Detroit “Big 3,” the number of cars sold comes to about 2700 — while Toyota — even at a steep decline in units sold — sold nearly 8700. HEVs still only comprise about 2% of the market, at least partly because there are no satisfactory solutions, at least in production, for the requisite batteries. Toyota’s nickel metal hydride is the clear market king, and in spite of a lot of chest-beating from the lithium-ion camp, no production cars are using these batteries yet.
Possibly the very costly nickel metal hydride batteries still trump the Li-ion candidates for perceived safety reasons (worries that the Li-ion batteries will explode) — at any rate, both types of batteries are expensive and involve some delicacy in manufacturing. The energy storage industry is still experimenting with a variety of exotic battery types that promise even higher rates per kilowatt hour of storage.
And then there are the advanced lead-acid batteries, such as those from Axion Power International* of New Castle, PA. http://www.axionpower.com. These patented and trademarked “PbC” Batteries, substitute nanocarbon material for the traditional lead anodes, decreasing weight, increasing battery life, virtually eliminating corrosion, and allowing the batteries to recharge on the fly. PbC batteries are not in full production yet, and when they are, they may be gobbled up by the electric utilities for grid buffering and storage of wind- and solar-generated electricity. But Axion has converted production cars to pure-electric or EV status with its PbC batteries, and claims more than 45 miles per charge. Perhaps also significant, the cost per kilowatt hour is less than half that of Li-ion or NiMH.
For information on advanced lead-acid batteries, visit the Advanced Lead-Acid Battery Consortium, http://www.alabc.org/.