The core of LG’s plug-in conversions, supplied by Plug-In Conversions Corp (PICC), is a 6.1kWh battery pack, comprised of 168 nickel metal hydride (NiMH) cells from Gold Peak Battery (GP). A global battery manufacturer headquartered in Hong Kong, GP has been in business for 45 years and has produced high capacity rechargeable NiMH cells for two decades.
Last year GP purchased a minority interest in PICC and is therefore invested in seeing the Prius plug-in conversions succeed. This brings major manufacturing and business resources to bear in producing the best plug-in conversion system currently available and demonstrates GPs commitment to automotive applications. (Pic: GP batteries in LG’s conversion kit)
GP is hardly new to EVs: they already supply the batteries for the Vetrix scooter, other electric-assisted pedal bikes, and previously supplied energy storage devices for small run OEM products developed during the original ZEV mandate. Beyond cars, they are the largest producer of rechargeable NiMH batteries outside of Japan. (Pic: Production lab in Hong Kong; note Vectrix scooter on right)
Indeed because they have been producing NiMH for so long, they were early to apply for a license to the original Ovonics patent on the chemistry, and their license specifically includes 4-wheeled vehicle applications. Legal missteps by other companies (including Panasonic and Toyota), and ownership of Ovonics by Cobasys (joint venture with Chevron) and the patent along with it, have otherwise stymied use of NiMH, giving Gold Peak the advantage.
(Patent encumbrance for 4-wheel applications is the main reason why NiMH has not seen widespread use in cars, not because the chemistry is inadequate, which in turn has delayed EV applications. It is also a driving force behind the development of lithium-ion batteries to which the patent does not apply.)
Link to Gold Peak Batteries
Link to Gold Peak International
Link to Gold Peak North America
Link to EVB – GP subsidiary that supplies the NiMH cells (GP30EVH) for the Prius Conversion
Read more on LG’s Plug-In Conversions
(Pic: Carolyn at EVB lab, Gold Peak Building, Hong Kong, May 2009)