I recently spoke with another green technology player to watch in the emerging micro-hybrid space, battery company PowerGenix, which recently created its first production prototype.
What makes this company unique is the nature of the materials it uses for its technology: the PowerGenix approach relies on rechargeable nickel-zinc technology, rather than the traditional lead-acid or nickel-metal hydride technologies that you might see in these cars currently. Micro-hybrids are interesting because they are designed to turn off the gasoline engine if traffic is slowed or if it has stopped altogether. This practice can save approximately 5 percent to 10 percent, on average, in fuel consumption and in carbon dioxide emissions, according to Pike Research (“Micro-Hybrid Technologies, Batteries and Ultracapacitors: Market Analysis and Forecast”).
Noted PowerGenix CEO Dan Squiller in a recent press release:
"Micro-hybrids are about to become a fact of life in the auto industry. Within four years, almost two out of five new cars sold globally will be micro-hybrids -- we're talking about over 15 million micro-hybrid cars per year."
PowerGenix Vice President of Business Development Richard Brody said his company's batteries are differentiated from other offerings in the following ways:
- They are smaller than alternative choices for start-stop hybrids. That's a big deal because it will help reduce the overall weight a vehicle for improved efficiency.
- They have a lifespan that PowerGenix believes will be up to twice rival technologies (approximately five years in the vehicle)
- They are highly recyclable
Although Brody wouldn't tell me which OEMs are testing PowerGenix technology, he said the company is working with companies in both Europe and the United States to field-pilot its technology to make sure it can withstand the rigors of "under the hood" testing. He said the technology is built to theoretically replace the battery in existing micro-hybrids, which is how the company would gain a foothold with automotive companies that have already broken into the micro-hybrid space but that are looking to continue to improve the efficiency of their vehicles.