Electric Cars and Trade Shows

The electric car is coming. So how many times have you heard that statement in past years? Too many times, I'm sure. However, if the recent news reports are on target, you just might see an electric vehicle within the next two years powered by lithium-ion batteries. A number of car manufacturers, among them GM, Toyota, and Nissan, plan to introduce electric vehicles with li-ion batteries in 2010.

Hybrid vehicles on the road today are powered by either lead-acid or nickel-metal hydride batteries which are heavy and take up too much valuable trunk space. New li-ion technology developed by A123 Systems promises to overcome these disadvantages with batteries that are touted as lighter and more compact.

According to a recent article in the MIT Technology Review, a hybrid is designed to use the battery only occasionally, leaving the engine to power the vehicle for most of the time. GM, however, wanted a car that could accommodate short commuter trips on battery power alone without using the engine. Deciding on li-ion technology, GM started working with A123 to develop a li-ion battery for the Volt, its new concept car.

What's unique about A123's battery is the method of manufacture. Using nanotechnology and a special doping process of trace metals, the battery life has been extended much longer than conventional li-ion batteries. In fact, the company anticipates its batteries will last more than 15 years of daily use. Additionally, since they operate at a lower temperature, many individual batteries can be grouped into a battery pack without degrading operation.

The battery pack in the Volt is designed to be charged from standard household 110-V AC power and will provide a driving distance of about 40 miles according to the company. As necessary, the engine will run to charge the battery for trips that can extend up to 640 miles. In reality, the Volt still is a hybrid, but maybe it's one step on the way to an only-electric vehicle that can accommodate a reasonable driving range.

On another topic, some of you readers were kind enough to respond to my editorial “What About Trade Shows” that appeared in the May issue. You may remember that I ranted about our experiences at the recent APEX Show in Las Vegas which turned out to be less than rewarding.

The responses generally were in line with my views. One reader found the planning of the exhibit layouts to be poor, especially for small companies, but enjoyed attending the technical sessions. Another said that some trade shows are not as valuable as others and where they are held plays a large part in his company's decision to attend.

Yet another reader said his company generally has a negative impression of all trade shows as far as realizing a decent return on investment. One person said he was rarely impressed by the folks organizing, managing, and running trade shows. The days of the big shows generally are gone, he continued, and his company now concentrates on smaller, more focused events.

A past president of the IEEE EMC Society who also is active in EMC committees explained how the society tries to make their shows more attractive for attendees and exhibitors. Their shows are held at a variety of locations from coast to coast to attract attendees from designated regions of the country. They spend considerable time organizing and providing a good technical program. But probably the most important reason to attend is the free food that usually is available during their events.

Paul Milo
Editorial Director
[email protected]

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