While they've been doing quite well selling their Sonata laptop batteries, Boston Power would really like to get their automotive market mojo rising since, so far, they've only managed to get their lithium Swing cells into an all-electric ZE Saab 9-3, the product of a small consortium that includes the troubled Swedish automaker. Clearly the company has more ambition than that and so, to attract the consideration they crave, they've gone out and persuaded someone with serious credentials to sit on their Board of Directors, Robert Purcell. Those of you with a decent knowledge of recent electric vehicle history might recognize that name as belonging to the man who headed GM's Advanced Technology Vehicles Group between 1994 and 2002 which produced the EV-1 and the Chevy S-10 Electric Truck. He also sat as chairman of the GM-Ovonic Advanced Battery Joint Venture at that time and currently runs his own firm which advises on advanced automotive and alternative energy investment projects. We suspect he knows a thing or two about electric vehicles and batteries.
What does he think of Boston Power's bona fides?
I've been looking for a battery like Boston-Power's for 20 years. I knew immediately upon meeting the team and reviewing the technology platform that I wanted to play a role within the company. In addition to being in mass production and embodying the right combination of capabilities in terms of extended range, weight and space, safety, cost and quick recharge, Boston-Power's batteries are the only ones to earn stringent certifications for environmental sustainability. They're already being well received by the auto industry and I'm confident they will be adopted for a range of vehicles by manufacturers around the world.
We think he likes them. Hopefully this will all translate into the firm from Massachusetts getting some traction in what is becoming a very competitive field. Hit the jump for Purcell's answers to six pertinent questions as well as the official press release.
[Source: Boston Power]
Q & A
1. You've been pioneering the electric vehicle since the 1990s. What drives that dedication?
My passion for affordable electric vehicles that will have minimal environmental impact, and will be fun to drive, is what motivates me. The world is increasingly becoming urban-centered, with roughly 50% of the world's population living in major urban centers today. That percentage is expected to increase to 65% in the next 15 to 20 years; and at the same time, the demand for energy continues to increase. New solutions for personal transportation need to emerge, reducing our dependence on fossil fuel. I truly believe that electric drive is a solution. It is far more efficient and much cleaner than any of today's technologies.
2. What's fueling the demand for hybrid and electric vehicles today?
It is a combination of customer expectations and regulatory requirements. The industry has moved significantly since the mid-1990s when I led the team that brought the GM EV-1 to production. Most of the world's major automakers now embrace the technology and see the merits in the future of electric drive. Governments have also largely moved to a cooperative approach, rather than the "command and control" mandates of the past. I really believe that a critical mass is now coming into play that bodes well for large-scale application of the technology.
3. You've been quoted as saying you've been looking for a battery like Boston-Power's for 20 years. What's so compelling about it?
I believe Boston-Power has done the best job of "systems engineering" an advanced battery technology for automotive applications of any battery company that I have been exposed to in nearly 20 years in the sector. Their solution offers outstanding energy density, long cycle life, quick recharge time, low cost, redundant safety, and environmental accreditations in both Europe and China. I believe the Boston-Power battery has the potential to create the new industry standard.
4. You talk about "green cars deserve green batteries." What does that mean to you and to automobile manufacturers?
To me, when I say "green cars deserve green batteries," I mean that the total statement for these electric vehicles needs to be green. We need a green battery that fulfills the requirements for clean technology, as well as the vehicle itself. Boston-Power is one company that is uniquely positioned with an environmentally-accredited advanced lithium-ion battery. As buyers of "green vehicles," we should demand that they be equipped with green batteries. And to automobile manufacturers, they now have access to a green battery solution.
5. Are electric cars safe?
Yes, electric cars are safe because the new advanced batteries are designed to prevent overcharging, overheating and damage in the event of an accident. Advanced batteries are high-energy density systems. These high energy storage systems need to be designed with safety in mind. I believe Boston-Power has done the best job in the industry of designing a safe, reliable high energy storage solution, because they have approached this from a systems perspective, building safety into the process from the individual cell all the way up to the complete battery pack, and in every step along the way.
6. Do you envision a day when consumers rank the battery at the top of the list of considerations when buying cars, trucks and other forms of transportation?
Yes, as electric drive becomes more commonplace in the industry, I believe consumers will consider their battery system as a key variable in the purchase decision. Electrical energy storage will be fundamental in the operation of their vehicle. And I believe they will demand a battery system that meets
Boston-Power Names Former General Motors Senior Executive Robert Purcell to Board of Directors
30-Year Auto Industry Veteran Spearheaded Launch of GM's Electric Vehicles
Most Recently Served as General Manager for Group Overseeing Multibillion Dollar Component Sales and Technology Licensing
WESTBOROUGH, Mass. – February 22, 2010 – Boston-Power®, Inc., the rapidly growing provider of next-generation lithium-ion batteries, today announced that internationally respected automobile industry executive Robert C. Purcell, Jr. has joined its board of directors. Working closely with Boston-Power's executive team and fellow board members, Purcell is applying his expertise in battery electric vehicles (BEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) to help drive the deployment of Boston-Power's batteries throughout the transportation sector.
Motivated by a love for cars since he was a teenager, Purcell, 57, embarked on his career by serving as a certified mechanic for luxury models and high performance sports cars. During the next three decades, his vision for the future of transportation and the role that electric vehicles could play led him to a series of progressively more strategic and influential roles within General Motors (GM).
"Boston-Power is bringing to the transportation industry a game-changing lithium-ion battery that delivers unmatched levels of high energy density, safety, low cost, fast charge and environmental sustainability," said Boston-Power Founder and CEO Dr. Christina Lampe-Onnerud. "As a pioneer in the electrification of transportation, Bob Purcell brings a perfect combination of invaluable insights, real-world experiences, and an established, international executive network to our company. We're thrilled to add him to our team."
From 1994 to 2002, Purcell led the GM Advanced Technology Vehicles Group (GM ATV). GM ATV was responsible for the development and production of the GM EV-1, the world's first modern electric vehicle, which went into production in 1996. His organization also developed and produced the S-10 Electric Truck and developed the GM Precept Hybrid Vehicle, which was part of President Clinton's Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles program. Many of the
technologies pioneered at GM ATV are still widely used today throughout the industry in electric, hybrid and fuel cell vehicles. In addition to his responsibilities at GM ATV, he also served as chairman of the GM-Ovonic Advanced Battery Joint Venture.
Prior to completing his career at GM in 2008, Purcell served as vice president of global planning, sales and strategic alliances for the General Motors Powertrain Group. In that position, he was responsible for global business and technology planning for GM's engine and transmission operations. His organization also managed Powertrain's $2 billion annual direct component sales and $1 billion technology licensing activities.
"I've been looking for a battery like Boston-Power's for 20 years," Purcell said. "I knew immediately upon meeting the team and reviewing the technology platform that I wanted to play a role within the company. In addition to being in mass production and embodying the right combination of capabilities in terms of extended range, weight and space, safety, cost and quick recharge, Boston-Power's batteries are the only ones to earn stringent certifications for environmental sustainability. They're already being well received by the auto industry and I'm confident they will be adopted for a range of vehicles by manufacturers around the world."
Purcell currently serves as founder and president of Purcell & Associates, LLC, a senior advisory group specializing in advanced automotive and alternative energy investment projects. His clients have included companies ranging from MidAmerican Energy Holdings, a Berkshire Hathaway Company, to EDC Automotive, an emerging leader in automotive thermal management systems.
Boston-Power's products have earned the company worldwide recognition. Last month, the company earned a prestigious Technology Pioneer Award from the World Economic Forum. Proving that a commitment to environmental sustainability can complement sought-after, competitively differentiated products and world-class mass manufacturing, Boston-Power counts HP among its customers – making it the first U.S.-based firm ever to provide battery technology to a global notebook PC vendor. Boston-Power is the first and only battery provider whose rechargeable lithium-ion battery cells have earned the prestigious Nordic Ecolabel accreditation. The company's products have also earned a similar industry-first certification from the China Environmental United Certification Center (CEC).
Boston-Power, Inc. is an award-winning provider of next-generation lithium-ion battery technology. Designed to fuel a wide range of applications, its flagship offering, Sonata®, serves as the foundation for HP's new brand of longer lasting notebook batteries that also help the environment – the HP Long Life Battery. The company's Swing™ product delivers unmatched capabilities for Plug-In Hybrid and Battery Electric Vehicles (PHEV/BEV). Founded in 2005 and with more than 100 patents filed, Boston-Power is led by founder and CEO Dr. Christina Lampe-Önnerud, an internationally recognized innovator, entrepreneur and technology advisor with regard to portable power, energy storage and climate change. To date, the company has raised $125 million in venture funding from Foundation Asset Management, Oak Investment Partners, Venrock, GGV Capital and Gabriel Venture Partners. Boston-Power is headquartered in Westborough, Massachusetts, and has Six Sigma-level mass manufacturing operations in Asia.