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  • Axion Power Concentrator 81: Beginning March 26, 2012, Bangwhiz's Article, Selling The PbC Battery - It's Not Easy Being Green! 162 comments
    Mar 26, 2012 7:01 AM | about stocks: AXPW

    These instablogs and the people who maintain them have no relationship whatsoever to Axion Power International other than possibly being shareholders and/or interested potential investors. To our direct knowledge no person with a current relationship to Axion Power International participates or follows the activities in these instablogs.

    With that out of the way ...

    Be sure and either follow the Axion Power Host ID on Seeking Alpha or click the check-box labeled "track new comments on this article" just ahead of the comments section!

    A gem of an article by Bangwhiz:

    Selling The PbC Battery - It's Not Easy Being Green!

    There are two important facts about the Axion PbC battery stockholders need to understand. First, it is not a commodity product like bananas or standard lead acid batteries. Its different. Secondly, being different engineers have to design new systems versus whatever they've done before if they are to benefit from its unique performance characteristics. That means change, and like the Eagles sang in their song Sad Cafe, "But things in this life change very slowly, if they ever change at all."

    People and organizations resist change unless they are either forced by some outside pressure, or the benefits to them are so great it is sufficient motivation alone. In the case of the PbC battery two organizations, Norfolk Southern and BMW, were drawn to the PbC battery because they had a problem the PbC might solve for them. Conventional commodity lead acid batteries were not up to the demands of stop start automobiles or battery powered electric locomotives. They were embracing and seeking change.

    Inventors have been waving magic beans in front of engineers eyes forever and often those magic beans lose their magic very quickly when engineers attempt to put them to practical use. Consequently, engineers are inherently skeptical of anything new until it has proven itself truly useful and reliable.

    Because the PbC battery has different electrical and performance characteristics engineers at a fork lift manufacturer, auto company, railroad, or any other company will need to design and build new electrical and or mechanical subsystems specifically engineered for the PbC battery before they can benefit from the PbC 's magic beans.

    BMW and Norfolk Southern possessed a strong enough interest in the PbC to commit to the time and money required to conduct preliminary test and evaluation programs followed by conceptual system designs, then building actual prototype systems made specifically for the PbC. That has been followed by more test and evaluation of the prototype systems and perhaps modifications to the prototypes leading to a final design. This activity would be coupled with trade off studies of any final PbC system design versus all the other possible solutions including detailed cost benefit number crunching studies. The engineers design and develop, the bean counters rule.

    Because of any non-disclosure agreements Axion has signed we do not know the status of most of the ongoing potential customer development programs for the PbC battery. Big organizations are big because they haven't made any big mistakes. It is an inherent slow process demanding patience from Axion and its stockholders. No one is more anxious to sell the the PbC battery and produce millions of PbC electrodes for the lead acid industry than Axion's management. It is just going to take the time it takes and not a minute less.

    Axion does have one product not subject to so much trial and tribulation - the PowerCube ranging in size from the mini-cube to 20MWs. You could almost write a design spec and purchase order on the back of a napkin. 10 MWs standby power for 30 minutes. Some have suggested Axion create some sample PowerCubes and give them to prestigious customers to try free of charge. You just "plug" them in. Not hardly. You need to run the power into and out of the PowerCube and that means site specific power distribution systems, building permits and construction. The installation may need to be fixed inside a building with all the design and construction that entails versus sitting outside in a trailer.

    I'm not an engineer so I am not going to try and describe what all a customer has to do to utilize a PowerCube, but it is going to be a lot more than "just plugging it in." Axion Power Concentrator commentator, DRich, who is an engineer, said, "I don't know if this covers it, but even in grid applications, 'samples' aren't all that practical. Even though the batteries are the same, it is easy to assume that is where 'sameness' ends. Each business will have a different power use profile and thus the inverters/transformers will be different almost every time. The BMS and/or the software may need to be tailored to each power profile. There is considerable cost in engineering associated with those 'samples'."

    Anyone who wants to buy whatever size PowerCube they want for all its benefits will need the services of an electrical engineering firm, or an in-house electrical engineering staff, to integrate the PowerCube into their facility. Then there are all the software control issues that will need to be sorted out for the specific customer's power usage profile. It isn't rocket science, but it is involved and takes time and money to accomplish. There is no free lunch. For my money I would rather Axion Power Director of Marketing, Vani Dantam, just sell someone a PowerCube than probably spend the same amount of time and money trying to convince a prospect to take one for free.

    An Axion Power sales rep can't just waltz into a E-Bike or forklift or UPS manufacturer and say, "We've got a special on PbC's today, 3 for the price of 2." Think about how many people in a prospective customer have to agree that building anything using the PbC - a product they've never seen or used before, with nothing sitting around they can just drop it into and then turn it on - is worth their time, money and effort?

    I have a lot of major account sales experience. I've been Vice President of Sales for a hardware design, development and prototype engineering company. I've been Manager of Business Development for a nuclear engineering firm. Most of the time when you go through the door of a large company representing a new product or service it is just like pushing in the side of a sponge, the minute you leave everything pops back out just like it was before. Nothing has changed. If you are lucky maybe whomever you talked to talks to their boss, who then talks to his boss, etc etc.

    When they want you they call you. Until then, you are just whistling Dixie. Then after they call you it isn't a done deal. Everybody up the line has to confirm the decision. The numbers have to work, the details have to mesh, the timing has to be right - and on top of that they have to like and respect you and your organization. They have to be true believers.

    So when you are screaming for Axion Power CEO, Thomas Granville, to just sell or give away Powercubes or PbC's, you need to understand the complexity of doing so, and the time required to achieve an actual sale. Engineers are methodical, cautious professionals who have their careers at risk every time they draw a line or circle. They are not going to endorse anything until they are certain of the cost and benefits.

    About a year ago I made a bold statement that I would like to get on the phone and sell PbC's on straight commission. I said I might starve for a while but I would eventually find somebody who would buy some PbC's. John Petersen said "I wish it were so simple." He was right and I was over reaching a bit. I just didn't realize the complexity involved in selling the PbC because it is different from existing commodity lead acid batteries.

    I fully recognize the sales and marketing issues now, and if you haven't thought about it before perhaps this article will lead you to further contemplation on the subject. I still wouldn't mind selling the PbC, but I would pack a lot bigger back pack full of food before I picked up the phone. I would also plan on it taking one or more years of work before I might get a sale. Its just a tough business being green if you are a frog, or selling a PbC battery nobody has ever used before.

    ####
    Hearty gratitude to Bangwhiz on behalf of the Axion Power Concentrator series!

    ####

    During the past seven months the Axion Power Concentrators have organically grown into a vast trove of information all things Axion Power related, all things battery related, all things Energy Storage Sector related.

    Between now and 15 years from now, the global expenditure on energy in every way energy is created, delivered, conserved and used will be in the trillions of dollars.

    Derived from well over 12,000 Axion Power Concentrator comments comes to us a compendium archive created by APC commentator Bangwhiz. In short here is what it is, and does:

    The Axion Power Concentrator Web Sites is a complete easy-to-use online archive of all the information contained in the entire Axion Power Concentrator series from day one; including reports, articles, comments and posted links.

    It also contains a "New to Axion" section for people who are new to Axion and want a good starting point for their own due diligence. The site is updated daily as new links are posted to current comment threads. Links are posted by topic and can also be found using the "Search This Site" tab.

    The Comment Search Feature on the homepage is great for finding a comment you want to read again that would normally be lost in all the thousands of past comments. Simply search using a good key word or phrase, or any Google search term modifier, such as AND etc.

    New Feature: You can now search all past comments or just the past 3 months.

    Complimenting the Axion Power Concentrator Web Site is the Axion Power Wikispaces Web Site, "A repository of information about Axion Power International, Inc. and PbC® battery technology" created by APC commentator WDD. It is an excellent ongoing notebook aggregation of Axion Power facts.

    Want to ask, or have someone ask, Axion Power leadership a question during the forthcoming late March 2012 conference call? The following link led by Bangwhiz is where you can write your question, maybe have it discussed and expanded upon before the conference call.

    http://seekingalpha.com/instablog/667879-bangwhiz/279411-axion-power-2011-q4-march-conference-call-questions-list?source=kizur

    Jlyleluce has created a nice table comparing and summarizing some of the critical performance attributes of standard and PbC batteries. It clearly demonstrates why the PbC will be the perferred choice in many applications requiring long-lived stable high charge acceptance rates. It has been slightly reformatted for display purposes.

    (click to enlarge)
    Jlyleluce

    ####

    This is a troll free zone. All disruptive comments that violate Seeking Alpha's Terms of Use Agreement will be removed and permanently recorded in a separate Instablog.

    Be sure and either follow the Axion Power Host ID on Seeking Alpha or click the check-box labeled "track new comments on this article" just ahead of the comments section!

    Enjoy!

    Disclosure: I am long OTCQB:AXPW.

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Comments (163)
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  • Axion Power Host
    , contributor
    Comments (497) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Many thanks to Jlyleluce for allowing us to use his table comparing certain attributes of different batteries in this instablog. We've included it in the "header" - be sure and take a peek at it - it really simplifies understanding some things that are less clear in standard charts.

     

    APH
    26 Mar 2012, 07:08 AM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30453) | Send Message
     
    I want to give Jlyleluce a big thumbs up for his table because it's one that I wish I had created myself. I may have to plagiarize it sometime soon.
    26 Mar 2012, 07:16 AM Reply Like
  • Stefan Moroney
    , contributor
    Comments (2662) | Send Message
     
    Great chart, do we have enough definitive information to carry it out another couple years to the PBC 70-100K cycles?
    26 Mar 2012, 08:56 AM Reply Like
  • Axion Power Host
    , contributor
    Comments (497) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » Last comment from Thotdoc on the prior concentrator.

     

    =================
    BG and others who are trolling by bringing their politics in. I know you added you were joking...then Maya wasn't.

     

    Please keep politics out. It will go nowhere good. We have agreed to keep the discourse at a higher level and focused on Axion.

     

    I am as enraged about what you are happy with, as you are enraged about what I am happy with. And...where will that discussion get us?

     

    Best,

     

    G
    =================
    26 Mar 2012, 07:10 AM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30453) | Send Message
     
    FWIW I've found that subjects people hold dear as personal passions can easily get in the way of the dispassionate discourse we need as investors. If you want proof look no further than my articles that EV advocates consider insulting to their ideology. I do my best to avoid AGW and politics whenever possible for exactly that reason.
    26 Mar 2012, 07:36 AM Reply Like
  • H. T. Love
    , contributor
    Comments (18439) | Send Message
     
    Heh! (TSLA) raised to "buy" from "hold" by Wunderlich Securities.

     

    Pump & dump? Regardless, my long puts may get trashed, at least near-term.

     

    And it was going so well. <*sigh*>

     

    Well, this will bring out the shorters en mass - they'll try to hammer the price down to get out of a potential short-squeeze. Continuing at the rate they've been shorting, they'll likely succeed in just a few days in driving it lower again.

     

    HardToLove
    26 Mar 2012, 08:01 AM Reply Like
  • metroneanderthal
    , contributor
    Comments (1511) | Send Message
     
    My worry has been, and as others have stated, that OEM's may go for the "just good enough technology". If we look at graph provided by jlyleluce in the header, it appears that the PbC has a distinct advantage over other technologies - if carbon pastes have not seen any major development within last 18 months. If I were an OEM, I would think twice about putting a start/stop system on a car that I knew was sub-optimal and will fail to work within a few short months. This could result in some bad press, customer dissatisfaction, lawsuits, and potentially lead to more government regulation - i.e. Honda. In summary, IMHO, the OEM's are approaching Axion because it is in their best interests to do so and will move toward the PbC as a technology that provides them with an optimal solution at an acceptable price.

     

    However, given the above, don't really expect big news yet on the stop/start front as TG said - I believe at last conference call - that this was down the road a bit.

     

    Just my two cents.
    26 Mar 2012, 09:38 AM Reply Like
  • metroneanderthal
    , contributor
    Comments (1511) | Send Message
     
    and after reading jkurtz's below posting, add safe and reliable to my reasons for OEM's to adopt the PbC.
    26 Mar 2012, 09:58 AM Reply Like
  • jakurtz
    , contributor
    Comments (1888) | Send Message
     
    Oh, poor A123. They did not need this one. This is a classic example of why you do not rush product out the door until you are darn sure you have the manufacturing process and QC down.

     

    http://reut.rs/GTYAOY
    26 Mar 2012, 09:44 AM Reply Like
  • metroneanderthal
    , contributor
    Comments (1511) | Send Message
     
    From A123 website: "While we cannot discuss specific customers, there are five production transportation customer programs that currently have modules or packs from A123 that potentially contain defective cell"

     

    http://bit.ly/GQEPWz

     

    I was just curious which customers would be impacted, and it appears from the above that it is mostly in the transportation sector. A $55m hit can't be what they wanted to announce on a Monday morning.
    26 Mar 2012, 09:52 AM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30453) | Send Message
     
    A123's revenues from product sales last year were $140 million, so this warrant liability represents a 39% revenue hit.

     

    I don't mind predicting delays and difficulties controlling costs, but a warranty liability of this magnitude is simply tragic.

     

    It's also proof adequate that extensive testing before you put a system in a vehicle beats the heck out making mistakes that could have been avoided with more rigorous testing.
    26 Mar 2012, 10:09 AM Reply Like
  • eggwis
    , contributor
    Comments (769) | Send Message
     
    Hear, hear!
    28 Mar 2012, 12:34 AM Reply Like
  • FocalPoint Analytics
    , contributor
    Comments (6190) | Send Message
     
    My worry is that Axon is pursuing a weaker than necessary business model by emphasizing selling electrodes to the big battery makers as opposed to selling completed batteries to selected end users.

     

    Yes, it takes a great deal of capital to build a large volume battery plant. But suppose the large battery companies figure they will play a waiting game and not buy the PbC electrodes. Instead, they decide to wait Axion out until they go bankrupt and than pick up the company for next to nothing, including the patients. In that situation the stock holders would probably get nothing.

     

    Wouldn’t it be more prudent to use their existing battery plant to start selling complete PbC batteries to companies that need it's advanced capabilities now? A good example of that is the railroad situation. The diesel locomotives need better batteries for starting up the engines now. If they had better batteries they could turn the engines off more frequently, and save the fuel used for idling. It's not as sexy as an electric locomotive, but it still should result in substantial fuel savings and reduced emissions at a very effective cost to the railroads.

     

    This strategy would generate positive cash flow which should enable Axion to obtain expansion capital at better rates, and that would allow Axion to start growing now. If I was the CEO I would want to have more control over my cash flow position and more leverage with the large battery companies.

     

    With this strategy, Axion would be seen as a threat to the traditional battery companies. It seems that the ideal way to neutralize that threat would be to incorporate the PbC electrodes into the large companies existing batteries, or buy the company, or make a proprietary deal. In either situation it seems that selling advanced PbC batteries directly to end users, now, would be a way to get the large battery companies off the side lines. If they don't want to deal, fine, now grow the end user business with your better battery.

     

    So long as Axion keeps the door open for other battery companies to buy their electrodes it seems like a relatively non-threatening strategy. Where it gets threating to other battery companies is if the first mover gets a proprietary deal. At that point, it's bare knuckles.

     

    We know from all the data that the PbC battery is far superior to current batteries. The market for replacement starter batteries for railroads is just sitting there for the taking. White papers are fine, but there is nothing like a good business success story to sell product.
    26 Mar 2012, 10:17 AM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30453) | Send Message
     
    Your understanding of Axion's business plan is incorrect. Every press release ends with the following sentence:

     

    "Axion's future goal, after filling their plant's lead-carbon battery production capacity, is to become the leading supplier of carbon electrode assemblies for the global lead-acid battery industry."

     

    Axion would rather fill the capacity in New Castle and then raise capital as necessary for electrode facilities because that strategy will allow it to leverage a billion dollars or so of existing infrastructure, supply chain and customer relationships.

     

    If the competition would rather than fight than switch, Axion is fully prepared to build its own battery plants (or the plants of bankrupt competitors) and fight.

     

    Timidity is not a common characteristic in Axion's management team.
    26 Mar 2012, 10:24 AM Reply Like
  • FocalPoint Analytics
    , contributor
    Comments (6190) | Send Message
     
    Are they actively marketing the completed PbC batteries now? If so, who is buying them? I have not seen any information on that. Do you have any data John?
    26 Mar 2012, 10:27 AM Reply Like
  • jakurtz
    , contributor
    Comments (1888) | Send Message
     
    FPA, their entire business is working toward selling and creating a market demand for the PbC. They have gone through a torturous 3 years of testing with several 1st tier OEM's in Auto, rail and grid to attempt to sell them the PbC, it is the testing that is holding up the sale of the PbC, not Axion.
    26 Mar 2012, 10:32 AM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30453) | Send Message
     
    Last November Tom Granville said "We have a product" for the first time. Axion has made all the batteries for NS and BMW and until it fills the 3,000 unit per day permitted capacity in New Castle I expect it to continue making as many batteries as it can in house.

     

    The PbC is a different beast than the conventional lead-acid batteries we all know and hate. For users to get the maximum benefit, their systems need to be designed to take advantage of its unique features, which is why Axion is up to its eyeballs in work for BMW, NS and others. The batteries won't be sold in onsies and twosomes, they'll be sold by the thousands in integrated systems that went on sale for the first time in the last month of the fiscal year we will hear about next Monday.

     

    I know for a fact that they are actively marketing, whether they've generated significant sales yet is another question.
    26 Mar 2012, 10:36 AM Reply Like
  • FocalPoint Analytics
    , contributor
    Comments (6190) | Send Message
     
    I know all about the BMW and NS testing programs. The white paper and the new chart in the header of the concentrator tells the story.

     

    It's a better battery. My point is its not necessary to wait for those big players testing programs. The railroad example from the other day is a perfect example of a need for a better battery now. Its not necessary for fancy testing in that situation. The current batteries are not up to the task. Sell them a few hundred PbC batteries and let them run them now. It has to preform better than the current batteries.
    26 Mar 2012, 10:40 AM Reply Like
  • jakurtz
    , contributor
    Comments (1888) | Send Message
     
    FPA: "The current batteries are not up to the task. Sell them a few hundred PbC batteries and let them run them now. It has to preform better than the current batteries. "

     

    It is not a plug-in substitute like that, was never intended to be. The system needs to be optimized to get the greatest strengths out of the PbC. The PbC is for systems OEM's are making tomorrow not systems they made five years ago.
    26 Mar 2012, 10:44 AM Reply Like
  • FocalPoint Analytics
    , contributor
    Comments (6190) | Send Message
     
    Look at the new chart. Are you saying that those results are comparing a standard battery against one that has been somehow specifically tuned for a specific application? If that is the case, that raises an obvious question, would a specially tuned regular battery have different results. I don't think so.

     

    The PbC electrode does better because it does not suffer sulfurization. It also has a much much larger effective surface area, and that makes it more like a capacitor than a traditional battery.

     

    Those changes alone should make an out of the box PbC battery superior to what the railroads are using to start their engines now.
    26 Mar 2012, 10:53 AM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30453) | Send Message
     
    The graphs show the results obtained by running batteries on a computer controlled rack using a testing protocol the automakers developed to simulate the micro-hybrid duty cycle.

     

    The testing has apparently progressed from a rack testing cycle to a vehicle testing cycle, but you can be certain that some other changes were made in the vehicle's control electronics to take maximum advantage of the PbC's strengths.

     

    A123 took a $55 million hit this morning from pushing product into the market without adequate preparation and testing. The same thing happened a few years ago with Altair Nanotechnologies and Phoenix Motors. Giving testing, evaluation and product development short shrift because you want to put sales on the books is one of the worst mistakes a company can make.

     

    Axion, like Paul Masson, will sell no wine before its time.
    26 Mar 2012, 11:02 AM Reply Like
  • jakurtz
    , contributor
    Comments (1888) | Send Message
     
    People can think I am blowing smoke and that is their prerogative, but Axion did not work for nearly a decade developing this battery establishing long term relationships with 1st tier OEM's to then at 1st and goal from the one yard line turn around and sell a few starter batteries to a manufacturer who can misuse the product because they have no clue what type of product they are utilizing and consequently create a press release similar to A123's this morning.

     

    They are not interested in small potatoes. They are shooting for the Elephant which puts my investment and their business plan on the exact same page.

     

    Their revenue has steadily ramped up through their current approach and I fully expect it to continue.
    26 Mar 2012, 11:15 AM Reply Like
  • FocalPoint Analytics
    , contributor
    Comments (6190) | Send Message
     
    Yes, pushing large quantities of PbC batteries into a situation without adequate testing would not be prudent. Your example of a 55 million dollar hit demonstrates what cold happen when a company takes a big risk.

     

    However, I am not advocating a big risk. I am saying put a few hundred PbC batteries into locomotives and see if they perform better than current batteries. I am also saying that they HAVE to perform better because of the lack of sulfurization. They don't need to be tuned to achieve maximum performance; they have to be performing better than the current batteries in use.

     

    Managing risk is very important, but paralysis by fear of risk should also be avoided. I think it's time to start moving product. You don't. We have a difference of opinion.
    26 Mar 2012, 11:21 AM Reply Like
  • H. T. Love
    , contributor
    Comments (18439) | Send Message
     
    IIRC, the yard switcher requires ~1080 batteries and the road version ~1600.

     

    It's NSC's decision, not Axion's decision. Asking or expecting them to push such a large potential customer seems a high-risk strategy to me.

     

    HardToLove
    26 Mar 2012, 11:25 AM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30453) | Send Message
     
    I wish it was that simple, but I can assure you it's not. Electrical devices and their batteries are designed to match specific performance profiles. If you try to substitute batteries without changing the performance requirements of the device the odds that something will fail approach virtual certainty.
    26 Mar 2012, 11:28 AM Reply Like
  • FocalPoint Analytics
    , contributor
    Comments (6190) | Send Message
     
    I am not talking about the electric locomotives. I am talking about replacing the starting batteries in the existing locomotives. They apparently don't turn those engines off because they are afraid their current batteries will not start them again. Those are the batteries I am talking about.
    26 Mar 2012, 11:33 AM Reply Like
  • FocalPoint Analytics
    , contributor
    Comments (6190) | Send Message
     
    I don't know John... the use of a carbon electrode removes one of the basic problems with lead acid batteries - sulfurization. I would think that alone would provide a significant improvement over what they are using now. All I am saying is that they should give it a try. I admit I am old school, and lean towards hands on problem solving. When I hear someone say it can't be done, I go out and try it.
    26 Mar 2012, 11:40 AM Reply Like
  • DRich
    , contributor
    Comments (4825) | Send Message
     
    >FPA ... We know what batteries you're talking about. Axion does not manufacture such a battery and will not anytime soon. It is a completely different form factor as well as a different device.

     

    http://bit.ly/GUCbjT

     

    http://bit.ly/GSxT8s

     

    It's not that Axion couldn't build one but it wouldn't make economic sense because it would require completely different equipment that what they have. These things are huge.
    26 Mar 2012, 11:41 AM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30453) | Send Message
     
    The 200 to 700 amp hour starter batteries for locomotives have nothing in common with the 70 to 90 amp hour 12 and 16 volt AGM batteries Axion currently manufactures. A couple of websites that include pictures are:

     

    http://bit.ly/GSy3Na
    http://bit.ly/GUCg7h

     

    There's no reason that Axion couldn't make a PbC battery in a railroad starter battery form factor, but the investment required to do so would run to several million dollars.
    26 Mar 2012, 11:42 AM Reply Like
  • FocalPoint Analytics
    , contributor
    Comments (6190) | Send Message
     
    I thought Axion was the king of strings?
    26 Mar 2012, 11:43 AM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30453) | Send Message
     
    You're still talking about a complete redesign of the battery pack and most likely the control electronics for the application.

     

    Specialty batteries are all custom made for a specific purpose and for now Axion is focusing on the most popular form factors. As the PbC gains traction in other markets Axion will either build capacity to make a particular form factor or partner with somebody who already does.
    26 Mar 2012, 11:50 AM Reply Like
  • FocalPoint Analytics
    , contributor
    Comments (6190) | Send Message
     
    I don't know that we are at the one yard line, and more to the point, the clock is ticking and we don't have any more time outs (capital raises). The ball has to be put over the goal line very soon. That is my concern.

     

    I am trying to remove barriers to sales as opposed to thinking up barriers. We know the batteries are superior. The goal is to sell the batteries. It's not necessary to make the batteries perform to their maximum potential. What is necessary is that the batteries perform better than the current competitive products so that the cost benefit equation is improved relative to the competitor. That's all I am saying.
    26 Mar 2012, 12:37 PM Reply Like
  • H. T. Love
    , contributor
    Comments (18439) | Send Message
     
    "we don't have any more time outs (capital raises)"

     

    We have another tranche already - just needs board approval to use it.

     

    I won't comment about whether or not it should be used and good or bad - circumstance always generates that qualitative assessment.

     

    HardToLove
    26 Mar 2012, 12:40 PM Reply Like
  • FocalPoint Analytics
    , contributor
    Comments (6190) | Send Message
     
    That line of capital is already raised... I am talking about another stock offering...
    26 Mar 2012, 12:42 PM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30453) | Send Message
     
    The offering that was just completed pushed the drop dead date out from December 2012 to December 2013 at the earliest. Selling a few thousand batteries isn't going to make a difference. Axion needs to finish testing with its first tier customers and establish long term relationships. The sky is not falling.
    26 Mar 2012, 12:50 PM Reply Like
  • H. T. Love
    , contributor
    Comments (18439) | Send Message
     
    Not true. Two tranches were authorized $10M and $18M. Only one has been used.

     

    HardToLove
    26 Mar 2012, 12:54 PM Reply Like
  • FocalPoint Analytics
    , contributor
    Comments (6190) | Send Message
     
    Yes, thanks to your great articles and comments, I know that. But access to capital at a good price is a growing businesses oxygen. I am pretty sure if they had some well-publicised sales and testimonials, it would help in the capital raising process. To many people testimonials carry more weight than white papers. An opportunity might come up that would require more capital than that necessary just to survive through December 2013. I would like to see a cushion or to use the foot-ball analogy, a deeper bench.

     

    That’s all I am saying really... I have tried to run a company on a shoe-string budget... and I am sure your clients have had the same experience.
    26 Mar 2012, 01:02 PM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30453) | Send Message
     
    I will trade all the small sales and testimonials in the world for one press release from Norfolk Southern that says what Mr. Theilen said in his industry presentation last fall, or what BMW said in its industry presentation the fall before that.

     

    I have a very tiny voice and small sales and testimonials don't speak any louder, unless they say something negative. When the big boys talk everybody listens.

     

    The key with a new technology is to make no grave errors in the launch. The route you're advocating is an open invitation to grave error. I never forget the story of the old bull and the young bull on the hilltop because I've seen too many bad results from the young bull approach.
    26 Mar 2012, 01:27 PM Reply Like
  • FocalPoint Analytics
    , contributor
    Comments (6190) | Send Message
     
    That line of capital is already raised... I am talking about another stock offering...

     

    I am not talking about what's authorized, I am talking about what's been raised. 10M was raised at an offering of .35. If they have to go back for more without something positive....
    26 Mar 2012, 01:34 PM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30453) | Send Message
     
    Another stock offering won't be necessary till the summer of 2013. There is a remote possibility that nothing will happen between now and then, which could cause a problem. Trying to cross bridges 15 months before you get to them is neither prudent nor reasonable. The word obsessive comes to mind.
    26 Mar 2012, 01:46 PM Reply Like
  • FocalPoint Analytics
    , contributor
    Comments (6190) | Send Message
     
    “Another stock offering won't be necessary till the summer of 2013.” John, that statement assumes that no need for cash will arise before summer of 2013.

     

    “The word obsessive comes to mind”
    ----------
    Quite frankly, I hope a need for cash does come up before the summer of 2013. We have new and superior technology. I am hoping that a business opportunity will present itself that might require more cash and that on positive news, such cash would be obtained under better terms.

     

    What the hell is the matter with you. Are you resorting to name calling?
    26 Mar 2012, 02:00 PM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30453) | Send Message
     
    I can't imagine a business opportunity that will require substantial cash resources but not generate accompanying substantial news.

     

    There is huge logical defect in assuming that the price will remain at the current depressed levels indefinitely but wonderful things will happen in the business under a veil of absolute secrecy.

     

    I rarely make observations that are even close to personal, but you've been beaten this "do it now whether it makes business sense or not" thing to death.

     

    I've explained why things can't happen the way you want them to without unreasonable risk to Axion and the reputation of the PbC technology. I know management personally and can assure you that they think the same way. Axion, like Paul Masson, will sell no wine before its time.

     

    When detailed and repetitive explanations from somebody with my years of first hand experience with Axion, its management and its technology aren't good enough it gets very personal and very offensive.

     

    You might as well be calling me a liar.
    26 Mar 2012, 02:21 PM Reply Like
  • FocalPoint Analytics
    , contributor
    Comments (6190) | Send Message
     
    We have a difference of opinion. That does not make you a liar or me obsessive.

     

    If I thought you were a liar I would not own as many shares of Axion that I do. What I am trying to communicate is that it would be wise to insure that the atmosphere for raising cash is as positive as possible. I am also trying to communicate that I think the best way to do that, which falls under the control of Axion management, is through sales - any sales.

     

    I was not thinking of a negative event, I was thinking of a positive event. Specifically the need to quickly expand production capacity beyond current affordability. Big money investors are conservative and they will think of every possibility for problems in order to give them the best price.

     

    If you want the best possible price for your offering, you would want to have a signed contract, AND you would want to have on-going sales, that is better than just the signed contract. You might argue that the sales are miniscule. But I would argue that they are hard cash revenues, not promises. The greater the amount of sales, the better the price for the stock holders.

     

    The carbon electrode is the game changer; everything else is just a supportive role. I see a lot of talk about what Axion can’t do. I think a better approach is to go to the engineers, describe the application, and let them decide if they can do it in a timely and cost effective manner.
    26 Mar 2012, 03:58 PM Reply Like
  • Mercy Jimenez
    , contributor
    Comments (2345) | Send Message
     
    FPA, thanks very much for the strategic discussion thread you set forth above. I for one appreciate your persistence in helping us consider the different paths available to AXPW -- with its accompanying risks and opportunities.
    mj
    26 Mar 2012, 04:09 PM Reply Like
  • Mayascribe
    , contributor
    Comments (10502) | Send Message
     
    Adding that this discussion between FPA and John should once and for all prove that these APCs are not exclusively about all things AXPW positive.
    26 Mar 2012, 04:26 PM Reply Like
  • jakurtz
    , contributor
    Comments (1888) | Send Message
     
    In my opinion if the majors sign you and invite you to training camp you don't go down to the minors to prove you are a good pitcher, you wait for your debut under the big lights. (sports on my mind I guess)
    26 Mar 2012, 04:27 PM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30453) | Send Message
     
    I'm more than happy to accept your premise that sales would be a good thing. I have been this company's board chairman and legal counsel and I know how management and the board think. They will not pursue the path you prefer because of the risks I've enumerated.

     

    Right or wrong the management team will not accept the risk of a high profile failure and I support them 110%. They'll take the time to do it right the first time, or they won't do it at all.
    26 Mar 2012, 04:52 PM Reply Like
  • Tim Enright
    , contributor
    Comments (1356) | Send Message
     
    I think what FPA is saying is that he would like to see Axion target “existing” markets to provide a solid revenue stream. Let's face it, every project that I am aware of is a “new” market. We have attached ourselves to markets that have yet to be defined. We are at the mercy of the time lines in which these markets develop and that is a scarey thing without a revenue stream with growth. Starter batteries for “big” things such as trucks, trains and heavy equipment are existing markets that could benefit from our technology today. I think FPA has a valid point...
    26 Mar 2012, 08:19 PM Reply Like
  • DRich
    , contributor
    Comments (4825) | Send Message
     
    >Tim Enright ... FPA is not wrong in wanting to get involved in multiple markets. The drawback is money. Take the example of locomotive starter batteries. Check the dimensions. Now understand that Axion doesn't have equipment sized for that and won't until they have a revenue stream coming from the most common formfactor in the industry which they do have the equipment for. No one else on the planet has this equipment either. It will have to be built from the ground up and one-of-a-kind. Unless a customer wants to underwrite the $20M+ and give them several years to develop the manufacturing tools and carbon extruders, why would they spend that money or raise capital (another of FPA's worries) to accomplish the job now? I think Axion is busy enough for the moment but might entertain applications that can use what they offer and only more testing by a customer would answer that.

     

    I'm anxious for sales too and have a litany of risk worries but it is a unique and expensive device and would be a waste as drop-in replacement if it was even suitable for the job.
    26 Mar 2012, 08:57 PM Reply Like
  • Tim Enright
    , contributor
    Comments (1356) | Send Message
     
    >DRich... I understand and do not disagree. My main point is that we seem to have hung our hat on emerging battery markets and that our success depends upon time lines that are outside our control. Take BMW for example. Not only do we have to wait for the testing to complete, we have to wait on engineering and marketing to find a good fit.

     

    Trains might not be the best place to start in existing markets because of their unique battery size. But I am pretty sure heavy equipment manufacturers might be interested and they use form factors that match.

     

    I am just glad we have a toll contract. I am also very happy with my stock purchases of (AXPW)...
    26 Mar 2012, 09:42 PM Reply Like
  • 481086
    , contributor
    Comments (3442) | Send Message
     
    Tim, FPA, I'm having a hard time seeing how/why the PbC would be superior to AGM as a simple starting (or SLI) battery... to my mind, that's not really PbC's strength. AGM is doing that duty just fine at lower cost than PbC. Unless you're talking hotel loads and hanging out for extended times at PSOC I don't see how PbC is compelling there. It's more an energy exchange device rather than an energy storage device. Cranking once or twice a day is a waste of its talents (because it does carry that small but not insignificant price premium). It's rather a new type of device that only makes real sense for applications that are going to cycle it *hard* through a range of intermediate PSOCs such as the uber-demanding hybrid locomotive app. And IMHO those are indeed the very applications that are still under intense development to some extent. The PbC is going to be an invaluable WORKHORSE there... *in the right applications*---again, ones optimized especially for PbC's unique and powerful strengths, but I think for just about every other pedestrian Lead-Acid application it's either an awkward fit or it's overkill. And I think simple engine starting is an application in that category. To use an aviation analogy, there's a good reason you don't see turbojet engines on crop-dusters. It would be dumb. And not even that sexy. You'd only burn beau-coup gas, risk FOD damage with every pass, all but cook the stuff you're trying to spray, and probably crash anyway. All I'm saying is choose the right tool for the job. PbC is a new and different tool. The jobs that will use it best are still figuring it out. A ramble here I know, but the PbC is not just simply a better battery, it's a different animal altogether.
    27 Mar 2012, 12:28 AM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30453) | Send Message
     
    Very well said 48.
    27 Mar 2012, 12:42 AM Reply Like
  • siliconhillbilly
    , contributor
    Comments (2357) | Send Message
     
    >FPA: The PbC is partly a capacitor. To extract the maximum energy from it you need to discharge it from Vpeak to 1/2 Vpeak.
    A standard lead acid battery with double lead electrodes will release 80-90% of it's stored energy with about a 15% drop in terminal voltage. That is, the conventional LA battery appears to be almost a constant voltage source thru much of it's energy discharge cycle.

     

    This means the two batteries are quite different from an engineering and application viewpoint. That said, the PbC is unbeatable in applications optimized for its characteristics.

     

    Frequent shallow to medium State of Charge cycles are a prime example. The capacitor (non-chemical) portion of the PbC accepts frequent cycling with essentially no degradation. This makes it ideal for SS auto systems and regenerative braking that require very high charge rate and cycle life from a battery.

     

    Some of the delay we are seeing is the time it takes the application engineers to wed the PbC to their specific application. It's a learning experience for the technical people who have never seen anything like the PbC before. But they will figure it out. Hopefully in not too many more months.
    27 Mar 2012, 12:44 AM Reply Like
  • 481086
    , contributor
    Comments (3442) | Send Message
     
    Thanks much John, though I just cobbled it from all you've explained before... but look I think SiHiBi done outdid me right below...
    27 Mar 2012, 01:18 AM Reply Like
  • 481086
    , contributor
    Comments (3442) | Send Message
     
    That really nails it SiHiBi... ;)
    27 Mar 2012, 01:19 AM Reply Like
  • D. McHattie
    , contributor
    Comments (1844) | Send Message
     
    Thanks very much for the great discussion, guys.

     

    And I mean that thanks to FPA and Tim for bringing it up because while I side with SHB and 48, these doubts creep in from time to time and it's great to have some rational analysis of the subject.

     

    Also great that we stayed relatively acrimony free despite some differing opinions.

     

    D
    27 Mar 2012, 09:02 AM Reply Like
  • Jon Springer
    , contributor
    Comments (4100) | Send Message
     
    Note to archivists and APH, if those comments of 48 and SHB can be preserved somehow, they were very good and clear, and perhaps quotable at a future date. Thank you gentlemen.
    27 Mar 2012, 09:26 AM Reply Like
  • H. T. Love
    , contributor
    Comments (18439) | Send Message
     
    Jon,

     

    I agree. I think they would do well right under the table from Jlyleluce, sort of an explanation of why some of the results are as they are.

     

    MHO,
    HardToLove
    27 Mar 2012, 09:41 AM Reply Like
  • Tim Enright
    , contributor
    Comments (1356) | Send Message
     
    86, Well for me it's about not having to buy a bank of batteries every 1-2 years. No hotel loads just 4 group 31 starter batteries that get cranked several times a day if you want to save fuel (no idling). Its the same with heavy equipment, you want to save fuel you shut the engine off.

     

    There are a limited number of cranks in an AGM battery and it is somewhere between 500-1000. How many cranks are in a PbC battery? I would have no problem paying double the cost of an AGM for a battery that would last 10 times as long (or longer). That's a heck of a return on my investment...
    27 Mar 2012, 10:06 AM Reply Like
  • jakurtz
    , contributor
    Comments (1888) | Send Message
     
    Hey Tim, Why do you think an AGM battery can crank only 500-1000 times? Starting up a vehicle is not the strength of a PbC, AGM works just fine for that. The PbC's strength is carrying a load for 30 seconds and then accepting a fast 100amp charge in the next 30 seconds to be prepared for the next load carrying event.
    27 Mar 2012, 10:14 AM Reply Like
  • FocalPoint Analytics
    , contributor
    Comments (6190) | Send Message
     
    Jakurtz... why do you keep saying that AGM batteries work fine?The locomotive starting batteries are AGM, and they don't appear to be working fine.

     

    Time Enright is telling you he needs to buy a bank of batteries every one to two years. He wants to replace them less frequently.

     

    Over time, the AGM battery charge decreases and the time needed to recharge the battery increases while those values remain far more stable for a PbC battery. Relative to AGM:

     

    PbC has 10 times the dynamic charge acceptance;
    PbC has 5 times the cycle life;
    PbC has Stable round trip energy efficiencies in the 85% range
    27 Mar 2012, 11:10 AM Reply Like
  • Tim Enright
    , contributor
    Comments (1356) | Send Message
     
    Yea jakurtz, the number of cranks way off but the timeline is correct. Agreed, heavy equipment would not maximize the benefit of the PbC on the charging side but that shouldn't prevent it's use. Although, I do like the idea of the batteries being fully charged in minutes rather than hours.

     

    Again, I understand this is not something that you just do and it costs money to make an entry into a market. This just seems like low hanging fruit that can be picked while we wait on the emerging battery markets. The waiting is what is driving the uncertainty...
    27 Mar 2012, 11:16 AM Reply Like
  • FocalPoint Analytics
    , contributor
    Comments (6190) | Send Message
     
    Actually, here is what nails it. This is from Axion Power's web site
    http://tinyurl.com/cfo...

     

    Military Applications
    Axion recently received a $1.2 Million grant to develop advanced lead acid batteries for Marine Corps and Navy vehicle applications. Axion is working to develop higher power starting batteries with better cold temperature performance based on Axion’s proprietary PbC Technology™. Axion is also working to develop higher energy and longer life deep-cycle batteries to supply power for communications, weapon systems, and other electronic loads that are becoming increasingly more demanding on mobile platforms.

     

    The battery is tunable.
    27 Mar 2012, 11:31 AM Reply Like
  • DRich
    , contributor
    Comments (4825) | Send Message
     
    >FPA ... This speaks to Tim Enright & jakurtz as well. The PbC might make a superior starting battery (IMHO) for cold weather because I've found over the years that starting heavy equipment in the cold is as much a function of warming as igniting the fuel. With the capacitor characteristic the battery could "hotel" some amount of oil, water and/or fuel rail heating and still have the momentary energy to crank. It would take a lot of testing to find out if this is true and might need a mix of battery types.
    27 Mar 2012, 11:47 AM Reply Like
  • jakurtz
    , contributor
    Comments (1888) | Send Message
     
    Tim,

     

    I understand you wanting to take advantage of the "King in a String" because you are banking four batteries, I am just not sure if the battery fits well into this application YET.

     

    Drich says it might be good in these applications and it would be great if it is and I definitely trust his judgement on technical things more than my own.

     

    FPA, What I try to stay away from is the idea that the PbC is going to usurp the entire market away from AGM. Exide and JCI have noted that AGM perform well in simple stop/start applications. However, my belief is that when high charge acceptance like recuperative breaking and shutting down the engine while coasting come into play, essentially doubling and maybe tripling the engine off cycles, this is where the the PbC will shine. Ion my opinion AGM is not here today and gone tomorrow, it will be around for a long time as a workhorse in starting up our cars and even in generic stop/start applications. I would love it if the PbC takes over the entire AGM market, I am just more realistic than that and I believe that there are both strength's and weaknesses to the PbC. Remember, it is a hybrid, half and half, it is not fully both. I don't see how it can be. I look at it this way because it is as far as my technical understanding goes, if the battery is more than this and fits into more applications as others mention, all the better. SHB and Drich can talk much more in-depth than I can about that, I am just not willing to speculate on those things when it comes to my investing.
    27 Mar 2012, 12:11 PM Reply Like
  • User462699
    , contributor
    Comments (118) | Send Message
     
    BTW, "recently" is an Oct. 6, 2008 PR.
    27 Mar 2012, 12:20 PM Reply Like
  • 481086
    , contributor
    Comments (3442) | Send Message
     
    Heartily concur D. Most worthy dialog. I have/had no wish to pee on anyone's leg, particularly Brother Tim's. I totally get that he's got an application that is still not being served adequately. And that that is a major burr. Necessity WILL find its invention, but for now I still can't escape the reluctant conclusion that for simple robust starting at least, such solution is more likely to be found among all the improved versions of AGM that the challenges of SS are currently driving industry to forge. Keeping in mind of course, that when you add in significant extended hotel loads, and the repeated brutal exercise of a battery which that entails, that the equation almost certainly shifts right into PbC's wheelhouse...
    Given all though, waiting is still a bite. I know we're all anxious to see PbC out in the wild. And not a few of us would love to get our hands on some PbCs just to see what they can do, and to see what can be done with them ourselves...
    27 Mar 2012, 04:47 PM Reply Like
  • D Lane
    , contributor
    Comments (1524) | Send Message
     
    Speaking of regenerative braking, my understanding is that todays hybrid transit buses (frequent stops and starts) have batteries that can only recapture 30% of the energy available in regenerative braking. I believe they currently use L-ion batteries but lead-acid were used in the first generation of these hybrid systems. They made the switch because of weight savings.
    Anyone have an educated guess as to how much braking energy the PbC could capture. And how might it compare to L-ion on life-cycle cost?
    28 Mar 2012, 10:02 AM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30453) | Send Message
     
    Axion has not, to the best of my knowledge, done side by side charge acceptance testing that compares the PbC to lithium-ion. Without data I don't think anybody can venture a reasonable educated guess. So far the leading technology for recuperative braking in city buses seems to be supercapacitors from Maxwell, which already has several thousand units on the road.
    28 Mar 2012, 10:17 AM Reply Like
  • D Lane
    , contributor
    Comments (1524) | Send Message
     
    Thanks, John.

     

    I did not know about Maxwell's product in buses. Here in the US, hybrid buses tend to use BAE HybriDrive with lithium-ion
    http://bit.ly/H0yBW9
    which I have heard comes from A123. Its a series hybrid, best for frequent stops.

     

    Alternatively, buses have an Allison hybrid system using Nickel Metal Hydride batteries from Panasonic. That is a parallel hybrid system.
    28 Mar 2012, 10:35 AM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30453) | Send Message
     
    I think big hybrid vehicles that cycle the heck out of their batteries are probably a good market opportunity for both supercapacitors and lithium-ion batteries. I also think there won't be a silver bullet solution but there will be silver buckshot. That's one of the great things about this sector, anybody who brings a cost effective product to market will have more demand than he can handle and nobody needs a silver bullet solution to have a successful company.
    28 Mar 2012, 10:48 AM Reply Like
  • Tim Enright
    , contributor
    Comments (1356) | Send Message
     
    Hey jakurtz,

     

    "I understand you wanting to take advantage of the "King in a String" because you are banking four batteries."

     

    Not really. The whole "King of String" is about operating at a higher voltage with a wider voltage curve. That is, strings in series like the NS and PowerCube projects as well as the upcoming debut of the 48v LC Super Hybrid.

     

    I my maybe not so humble opinion, I am not counting on any 12v PbC applications in the SS market. Plan for the worst and hope for the best puts me dancing in the streets should the PbC get a design win there...

     

    I am not sure how much testing has been done with equalization in the parallel string of 4 PbC batteries but I suspect it has to be better than AGM...
    28 Mar 2012, 11:10 AM Reply Like
  • Tim Enright
    , contributor
    Comments (1356) | Send Message
     
    86, you have a very kind heart and I thank you (and others) for your patience with me. It's looks like we have covered a lot of ground in my absence and we should just let this thread die for now. However, I do have one more thing to bring to the group so I will do a little prep and post it in a day or two in the forward most concentrator (am in cruise mode and need hands on the wheel)...
    28 Mar 2012, 11:18 AM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30453) | Send Message
     
    You can also get to 48-volts with three 16-volt PbCs instead of four 12-volt batteries. A 48-volt system does not require 4x the energy of a 12-volt system, so you can do the work with smaller batteries and if you have years of experience with 16-volt AGM you can do the work with fewer batteries.
    28 Mar 2012, 11:21 AM Reply Like
  • Tim Enright
    , contributor
    Comments (1356) | Send Message
     
    reminds me of a discussion we had a couple weeks ago when we first contemplated a higher voltage system from BMW. Dare we be so bold as to ask the question in the conference call?

     

    "Are you testing the PbC in a higher voltage configuration (48 volts or other) with any of the automotive OEMs?"

     

    http://bit.ly/HjNW52
    28 Mar 2012, 08:00 PM Reply Like
  • H. T. Love
    , contributor
    Comments (18439) | Send Message
     
    "Instead, they decide to wait Axion out until they go bankrupt and than pick up the company for next to nothing, including the patients. In that situation the stock holders would probably get nothing."

     

    No debt = no bankruptcy?

     

    And if they wait too long, AXPW might be generating stronger revenue streams as well.

     

    HardToLove
    26 Mar 2012, 10:20 AM Reply Like
  • FocalPoint Analytics
    , contributor
    Comments (6190) | Send Message
     
    They have no debt so long as they can get financing. The last round of financing was at .35 and should last them for another year. What happens after that year if they need more financing to keep the doors open? If I was the CEO, I would rather have a good revenue stream now as opposed to depending on financing while waiting for one of these big deals to go through.
    26 Mar 2012, 10:23 AM Reply Like
  • Futurist
    , contributor
    Comments (2113) | Send Message
     
    FPA,
    Your fantasy that the marketing arm at Axion is so weak that nothing will sell in the next year is preposterous. But lets assume it is right.

     

    Then a year from now another $.35 raise will net Axion another year. And during that year more companies will test and ponder and some will come to fruition. The products sold for testing in the home market, the utility market, and unknown other uses ( oil wells) will also come into play.

     

    Your worry about the timeline is simply, your worry.
    27 Mar 2012, 10:19 PM Reply Like
  • Jon Springer
    , contributor
    Comments (4100) | Send Message
     
    responding to Futurist's comment responding to FPA's comments:

     

    I think it is relevant to worry about timeline. I have one little penny stock that I've been sitting on for 3 years now. For 3 years, it is flat as of today, having gone up and down and all around my average cost. I expect it to break out and up one day. I don't expect I can fully predict why the market will finally see value in it, so I hold and wait. However, there are a lot of other investments that money could have been in for the last three years and done better. The barometer of that investment's success, if and when it does break out, will be if the upside is enough to justify several years of patiently waiting, compare to other options available to me during that time.

     

    If we think Axion will have some announcement this year that will be a catalyst for the stock price, then buying going into this Conference Call, or perhaps the next one, makes sense. If we think Axion will be raising money at $.35 again next year, then we might be better off selling out and investing elsewhere for a year and circling back, for those that believe they could do better elsewhere. If we don't know which way the fork in the road goes and believe in the company long-term, then standing pat until there's more information makes sense.

     

    This blog is about looking for more information to make informed decisions. Timeline is only one of many tiny information cogs in the information sought, but it is relevant.
    27 Mar 2012, 10:42 PM Reply Like
  • Futurist
    , contributor
    Comments (2113) | Send Message
     
    Jon,
    I don't disagree with you about what this blog is about. Making an informed decision. I am simply pointing out that his worry about a timeline is not my worry. I invested in Axion with a long term timeline. I had hoped it would come to fruition sooner, but I do not trade Axion short term. To do this would be to lose out on a very upwardly mobile stock at exactly the wrong time.

     

    I would be miles ahead if I had sold my Axion at $2.50 and magically bought it back at $.31. But I did not because the information available has not changed. Axion is still in deep testing with major players. They have added a marketing company and a marketing department. The battery itself is still receiving major kudos in recent reports.

     

    A trader should buy when the news is announced. Sell on the bump. They should not try and tell a company with a long term vision every short hand formula for bumping the share price. The short term shareholders theory of running a company is meaningless.
    If on the other hand, a long term shareholder is worried about a possible cash raise over a year from now, then they are needlessly worried about something management is well aware of.

     

    Basically his worry is simply him fretting over his short term investment. Sorry to be so blunt but it is true.
    28 Mar 2012, 04:44 PM Reply Like
  • Jon Springer
    , contributor
    Comments (4100) | Send Message
     
    Futurist,

     

    Fair enough. I think we have a variety of types of shareholders here, albeit with a weighting toward long-term holders. There are different types of worry with different outlooks. I suspect those differences are good, although I can understand feathers getting ruffled of both short and long-term holders at the current valuation.
    28 Mar 2012, 05:26 PM Reply Like
  • FocalPoint Analytics
    , contributor
    Comments (6190) | Send Message
     
    "Basically his worry is simply him fretting over his short term investment. Sorry to be so blunt but it is true."

     

    It must be nice to be omniscient. You don’t know anything about me or my investment strategies, and consequently you can't know if I am in the stock short term or not. You assumed I want more sales so I can sell on a pop. Actually, I think if Axion survives, it has the biggest potential for a large return than any other stock I know of.
    28 Mar 2012, 06:02 PM Reply Like
  • LT
    , contributor
    Comments (5511) | Send Message
     
    FPA, I agree and have said this before myself. If not, TG better have a contract in hand that is not advertised yet.
    26 Mar 2012, 10:21 AM Reply Like
  • DRich
    , contributor
    Comments (4825) | Send Message
     
    >LT ... Mr. Granville said (last CC(?)) that he had P.O's in hand. I'm hoping that at this year-end call we find out more. Either quantity or to who would be satisfying to know and whether they are shipped, in production or continuing. Really the only thing I'm looking forward to this time round because I think everything else is just rolling along.
    26 Mar 2012, 10:27 AM Reply Like
  • LT
    , contributor
    Comments (5511) | Send Message
     
    You know from my posts that I don't expect any more than u just mentioned DRich. Positive surprises are always welcome though. P.O.'s in hand could have been the Navy, and a few more demo projects to be announced.
    26 Mar 2012, 10:40 AM Reply Like
  • LT
    , contributor
    Comments (5511) | Send Message
     
    There is much more to this article. Not as negative as the first paragraph either.

     

    * Soaring cost of producing secondary lead unsustainable
    * Secondary lead smelters pushing ahead with upgrades
    By Karen Norton
    LONDON, March 26 (Reuters) - The United States lead recycling industry will spend hundreds of millions of dollars to comply with tightening environmental rules but the pressure of rising costs eventually may force some output cuts or closures, according to industry experts.
    26 Mar 2012, 10:48 AM Reply Like
  • DRich
    , contributor
    Comments (4825) | Send Message
     
    >LT ... It is not just tightening environmental rules that will pressure cuts & closures. Here, in Frisco, TX, Exide has had a recycling plant for decades but is now under threat of being zoned out of business by the local developers that built right up to the fences and view the site as being "better suited" for commercial development. The EPA is being used as a weapon. Even as Exide & the EPA have come to an agreement about how to implement upgrades it is not satisfactory to the local establishment. I look for this industrial site to move to a 3rd world location in favor of a golf course. Of course those lost jobs will be the EPA's fault or Exide's for providing land so cheap it just had to have housing built on it.
    26 Mar 2012, 11:05 AM Reply Like
  • LT
    , contributor
    Comments (5511) | Send Message
     
    I just found the article interesting. XIDE is such a poor excuse for a company that I wouldn't base much on them, besides they need a recycling plant here in the USA because I would think it is way too expensive to ship junk overseas and back just to recycle.

     

    JCI is spending $150 million on new recycling and you hear no flak from the feds or locals.
    26 Mar 2012, 11:11 AM Reply Like
  • Ricknplano
    , contributor
    Comments (319) | Send Message
     
    DRich is exactly right. Exide is complying with current regs but needs to upgrade the plant to meet new, more stringent regs. Exide is willing to do that and the equipment for upgrading is readily available, but any addition to the plant, like any construction work, requires a city construction permit. In Texas any city may refuse a building permit if they feel it is not in the best interests of the community. Proper zoning, adherence to all codes and rules will not, in themselves, guarantee a permit. If the city does not want it they can just say no. Then the EPA will shut Exide's Frisco plant down for being out of compliance when the new regs tak effect. Exide has filed a lawsuit to require the city to allow them to upgrade. Unless there is some Federal statute they can hang their lawsuit on, they will lose. In Texas, cities are immune from prosecution for wrongdoing and cannot be forced to pay attorney fees or damages even if they lose. The only remedy is an injunction to force them to do what you wanted....if you win. Very tough and very expensive to fight city hall down here.
    26 Mar 2012, 11:45 AM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30453) | Send Message
     
    Rick or DRich> As I recall Exide built their Frisco plant when it was a sleepy farming community instead of a desirable bedroom community in the DFW Metroplex. Can either of you add some more color?
    26 Mar 2012, 11:53 AM Reply Like
  • DRich
    , contributor
    Comments (4825) | Send Message
     
    >JP ... You are quite right. The plant has been there for 20+ years and was in the dead-middle of nowhere. Texas being Texas cheap land just begs for housing construction no matter why it's cheap and that development brings the need for schools. It's on that basis the complaint about the plant is founded. This boils down to real estate development wanting cheapest land and the rift-raft of industry out. The weapon of choice is the protection of our children via pliable government agencies. Who knew that building housing, elementary & high schools downwind could be at all harmful? Fact is ... it isn't. And this it Texas, so who would care?

     

    http://1.usa.gov/Ha0BTt

     

    [Edited quote from EPA] In March 2010, thirty-eight (38) surface soil samples were collected from thirteen (13) publicly accessible areas in Frisco within approximately 1 mile of the Exide Technologies facility, and one area farther from the facility for background comparison. .... Sample results confirmed that concentrations are below regulatory levels of concern and no further testing or remedial action is needed for those areas that were sampled.

     

    Testing results for Texas Commission on Environmental Quality;
    Based on the letter from TCEQ to the City of Frisco dated September 1 2010, the emission levels monitored in nearby schools is well below the 2008 lead emission air quality standards.

     

    http://bit.ly/Ha0CXw

     

    Maybe it's not the safest place to live, work & play, but testing shows it's not dangerous. Facts won't stand in the way because with growth the land is valuable by location and cheaper to acquire than any other non-contaminated sites to those that operate this town (and that would be real estate interests). But with the state & Feds no willing to carry the water (but still get the blame), denying the permits to comply via the local government & "grassroots" (realtor funded) organizations insures non-compliance and the land gets developed in a socially acceptable manner.

     

    http://bit.ly/Ha0BTA
    26 Mar 2012, 02:20 PM Reply Like
  • H. T. Love
    , contributor
    Comments (18439) | Send Message
     
    Heh: The TSLA play started already? From a high of $38.09 at 13:49, price has tanked to $36.72 @ 14:03.

     

    The new price target is $49, from Wunderlich after touring the factory and seeing lots of dies for bodies laying around, although not in the presses yet.

     

    This was the reason for their upgrade.

     

    That's deep understanding of the business these days I guess.

     

    At least those customer deposits were used for something besides executive salaries.

     

    HardToLove
    26 Mar 2012, 02:07 PM Reply Like
  • anthlj
    , contributor
    Comments (228) | Send Message
     
    This kind of thing illustrates why the OEMs take 4 years to pick a battery:

     

    BMW recalls 1.3 million 5 and 6 series models worldwide

     

    Checks to affected cars should take 30 minutes, according to BMW

     

    German luxury carmaker BMW is recalling some 1.3 million cars worldwide because of potential battery problems that could, in extreme cases, result in a fire.

     

    The cars involved are 5 and 6 Series models built between 2003 and 2010.

     

    The company said it had received nine reports of the defect, but was not aware of any injuries resulting from the fault.

     

    Owners should take the vehicles to authorised dealers for repair.

     

    It said the battery cable cover may be incorrectly mounted.

     

    A company statement said: "In order to carry out a quality measure, BMW is recalling all BMW 5 and 6 Series models of the previous generation, built between 2003 and 2010 and still on the market, for repair at authorised dealers.

     

    "This can result in the electrical system malfunctioning, the vehicle failing to start and, in some cases, to charring or fire."

     

    It said it would write to all owners and that checks would take about 30 minutes and be free of charge.

     

    Earlier this month, the company reported record profit margins in its core car business for 2011.

     

    Its profits jumped by 51% last year to 4.9bn euros ($6.43bn; £4.1bn) compared with 3.24bn euros from the year before. Sales rose 14% to 68.82bn euros.
    26 Mar 2012, 02:12 PM Reply Like
  • FocalPoint Analytics
    , contributor
    Comments (6190) | Send Message
     
    The battery cable cover was not mounted correctly... is that the fault of the battery maker, or a manufacturer installution error?
    26 Mar 2012, 04:23 PM Reply Like
  • eggwis
    , contributor
    Comments (769) | Send Message
     
    FPA,

     

    IINM, where or with whom fault lies is irrelevant with respect to Anthlj's comment. I believe his point was that had something relatively simple not been overlooked in the design / testing process, this circumstance would not be. Thus, BMW's approach to quality autos through thorough (and very lengthy) testing.

     

    He was simply providing justification for their rigorous testing programs.
    28 Mar 2012, 01:24 AM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30453) | Send Message
     
    Technology Review is reporting that A123's problems arose from the mis-alignment of one of four welding machines in Livonia. – http://bit.ly/GYvXeG

     

    "This led to a slight misalignment of electrical connections, which in turn caused an electrical short when stacks of cells were pressed together to make battery packs."

     

    "The company says the problem is the result of its rapid scale-up of cell production to meet anticipated demand for battery-powered cars."

     

    A simple alignment error arose because A123 tried to rush the process – DO IT NOW – and get products to market immediately. The error created an existential threat that could have been avoided with a little more time, a little more care and a little more testing.
    28 Mar 2012, 01:48 AM Reply Like
  • FocalPoint Analytics
    , contributor
    Comments (6190) | Send Message
     
    No one is saying to rush a product to market without it being tested. However, if your not looking to sell a product for an existing application, the testing process will never be started.
    28 Mar 2012, 02:57 AM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30453) | Send Message
     
    There are existing products – micro-hybrid vehicles from BMW and others, electric locomotives from NS and others and Axion's own stationary product lines. The testing has been ongoing for the last three years.

     

    You keep pounding the table about forcing the square peg of the PbC into a round hole for some other product line where you think the testing, validation and approval procedures would be less burdensome.

     

    I keep telling you that there are no markets where the PbC can just slide in sideways without going through the entire process.

     

    A123's management followed your favored approach and incurred a $55 million warranty liability. The next item in their news cycle will be explaining inventory write downs of up to $60 million for finished goods and work in process created before the problem was discovered.

     

    You are advocating the business equivalent of Russian Roulette. It's not going to happen.
    28 Mar 2012, 03:29 AM Reply Like
  • FocalPoint Analytics
    , contributor
    Comments (6190) | Send Message
     
    A123 did not perform QC checks on their production process. That is NOT my favored approach.
    28 Mar 2012, 03:34 AM Reply Like
  • growsmart
    , contributor
    Comments (177) | Send Message
     
    Give it a rest.
    28 Mar 2012, 07:33 AM Reply Like
  • AlbertinBermuda
    , contributor
    Comments (786) | Send Message
     
    Just found this patent application by Norfolk Southern for a battery powered locomotive.

     

    http://1.usa.gov/GURb1Q
    26 Mar 2012, 03:25 PM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30453) | Send Message
     
    It looks like the NS patent was granted on March 20, 2012. I'm not familiar enough with patent law to know whether the patent might have been a pacing factor in their minds, but I can't dismiss the possibility.
    26 Mar 2012, 03:31 PM Reply Like
  • LT
    , contributor
    Comments (5511) | Send Message
     
    We had just discussed this a few weeks back....now you see that NS has patented an all electric locomotive...and it looks to me like PbC is what they are going to use. This is a reference in the patent:
    Look at #15, the PbC needs to stay at above 30% charge for maximum efficiency

     

    14. The locomotive according to claim 1, wherein each battery in the battery assembly is a lead-acid battery.

     

    15. The locomotive according to claim 14, wherein the battery management system limits a depth of discharge of each lead-acid battery at or below approximately 35%.

     

    16. The locomotive according to claim 14, wherein each of the one or more strings comprises fifty-four serially-connected 12-volt lead-acid batteries.

     

    17. The locomotive according to claim 16, wherein the battery assembly comprises twenty parallel strings.
    26 Mar 2012, 04:17 PM Reply Like
  • KentG
    , contributor
    Comments (368) | Send Message
     
    Not one 100 share trade today.
    26 Mar 2012, 04:04 PM Reply Like
  • H. T. Love
    , contributor
    Comments (18439) | Send Message
     
    And a relatively decent price, compared to recent, with an AH trade (9k $0.391) suggesting that was with Quercus in the market.

     

    I believe we are seeing buying into the reporting.

     

    Buy:sell visual estimate is ~2:1, a big change from the last time I peeked.

     

    We'll end at 49 trades, including AH, and it looks like average trade size will be decent, looking like >= 5k or so?

     

    I'll have to actually calculate later.

     

    HardToLove
    26 Mar 2012, 04:12 PM Reply Like
  • LT
    , contributor
    Comments (5511) | Send Message
     
    The BMS 206 may include or be coupled to various sensors and circuits to closely monitor a state of charge (SOC) and a depth of discharge (DOD) of each battery since it is desirable (at least for lead-acid batteries) to maintain all the batteries at substantially the same SOC or DOD level in order to extend their useful life. The SOC or DOD of a battery may be determined based on its terminal voltage, current input/output parameters, and battery temperature which can be tracked for an extended period of time. Since for a main function of the BMS 206 is to ensure every battery in the battery assembly 204 stay at substantially the same or similar SOC and/or DOD level, the BMS 206 may include charge equalization circuits that balance the batteries.
    26 Mar 2012, 04:26 PM Reply Like
  • LT
    , contributor
    Comments (5511) | Send Message
     
    It should also be appreciated that a battery-powered, all-electric locomotive in accordance with the present invention may be designed and configured in a number of different ways based on intended use of the locomotive. For example, the battery-powered locomotive may be intended for long-haul transport of freight or passenger on railroads or for switching or shunting railcars in a rail yard. The intended use may dictate the power output and capacity of a battery assembly needed for the locomotive as well as other specific requirements. Among the many design options, the choice of battery type may be the most influential upon the rest of the locomotive design and configuration. In the disclosure below, a battery-powered locomotive using 12-volt rated lead-acid batteries in its RESS is described as an example. It should be noted that, although some of the description might be specific to 12-volt lead-acid batteries, the disclosed systems and methods may be adapted for other battery types to build and operate battery-powered locomotives as taught by the present invention.
    26 Mar 2012, 04:27 PM Reply Like
  • wtblanchard
    , contributor
    Comments (2435) | Send Message
     
    "It should be noted that, although FIG. 10a only shows one diesel-electric locomotive coupled with one all-electric or battery-toting locomotive, more than one locomotive of each type may be included in a similar train configuration or variations thereof. For example, FIG. 10b shows a preferred embodiment wherein one battery (all-electric) locomotive 1008 is directly coupled with and positioned in between a first diesel-electric locomotive 1006 and a second diesel-electric locomotive 1010. The battery locomotive 1008 may include at least a battery assembly and a battery management system. Energy recovered from regenerative braking of the locomotives 1006 and 1010 may be channeled to the locomotive 1008 to recharge its battery assembly. Battery power from that battery assembly may also be supplied to the locomotives 1006 and 1010 to drive (or assist in driving) their traction motors upon demand. The locomotive 1008 may have its own traction motors which may be driven by the battery assembly and/or recover braking energy to recharge the battery assembly. Alternatively, the locomotive 1008 may have no traction motor at all. "
    26 Mar 2012, 04:36 PM Reply Like
  • LT
    , contributor
    Comments (5511) | Send Message
     
    These patents seem to be geared to the PbC specs to me. also NS appears to want to patent the entire locomotive...I suspect that is for their conversion facility to do loco's for other RR's too. Who knows from there, the may even build one.

     

    Some of it is pretty broad, but not bad for a start. You can see that for the OTR loco, they are going to throw a lot of charge into the batteries by using regen. braking from all 3 engines. It will take a very tough battery to handle that.

     

    A lot of time was spent on the Depth of Charge dynamics, and lead acid configuration numbers that appear geared to the PbC.
    26 Mar 2012, 04:39 PM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30453) | Send Message
     
    It looks to be very smart on NS' part because everybody else tried to stuff both the storage and the engines in a single locomotive where NS went battery power start to finish in an electric locomotive that miraculously becomes a hybrid train when it's tied to one or more diesel locomotives.

     

    They may very well have gotten a lock on that space.
    26 Mar 2012, 04:57 PM Reply Like
  • AlbertinBermuda
    , contributor
    Comments (786) | Send Message
     
    John

     

    It looks to me that NS is trying to cover all bases in one overriding patent.

     

    Specing the minimal battery configuration envisioned for the shunting engine (NS 999) into a regular long haul engine with all the bells and whistles.

     

    I would think that they would only go forward with this particular patent application once they knew for certain that it would work.

     

    Fingers crossed for impending news on the AXION front.
    26 Mar 2012, 05:05 PM Reply Like
  • LT
    , contributor
    Comments (5511) | Send Message
     
    I didn't post it, but I think they even put a clause/paragraph that would cover using the PowerCube in a trailing Car to carry the batteries.

     

    Much time was spent on the storage and battery dimension size too, as well as the Battery Mgt. System (BMS)...and even tho they list ALL battery types, the numbers suggest PbC all the way.

     

    Now EPA, get off your butt and approve the plan and NS exercise that damn Purchase Order !
    26 Mar 2012, 05:10 PM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30453) | Send Message
     
    Think back to this release from the summer of 2010:

     

    NEW CASTLE, Pa., June 9 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Axion Power International Inc (OTC Bulletin Board: AXPW), the developer of advanced PbC® batteries, announced today that it will launch a development program with Norfolk Southern Corporation (NYSE: NSC), one of the nation's largest railways, to develop a battery management system that would allow rail locomotives to operate on battery power and recharge their batteries through regenerative braking.

     

    ***

     

    "The key will be developing a battery management system that is robust, safe, dependable and easy to maintain," Granville said. "We are highly confident, based on our ongoing work, that this system can be successfully demonstrated in a fairly short time frame. We are, of course, pleased and delighted to be working with Norfolk Southern, an industry leader and a trail-blazer in hybrid locomotives."

     

    NS had already made a technology decision when they ordered the BMS.
    26 Mar 2012, 05:24 PM Reply Like
  • metroneanderthal
    , contributor
    Comments (1511) | Send Message
     
    I did realize patents could be so broad. Reminds me of the Selden patent. Although sure NS legal department has this nailed down tight.
    26 Mar 2012, 06:29 PM Reply Like
  • metroneanderthal
    , contributor
    Comments (1511) | Send Message
     
    Above should read "I didn't realize..........
    26 Mar 2012, 07:12 PM Reply Like
  • anthlj
    , contributor
    Comments (228) | Send Message
     
    It is tough to get any meaningful patent protection in the US these days, unless you have something truly unique. Claims can be broad, but you often only find out the true strength of such a claim, or for that matter any other claim or dependents thereof, once they are are challenged, or there is the threat of challenge. Sometimes people don't even want to put the ip in play and will ignore an infringer.
    26 Mar 2012, 10:29 PM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30453) | Send Message
     
    *Meaningful* is one of those loaded words that's accurate in a crowded field and less accurate in a pretty wide open one. It really depends on what people have done before you. When it comes to locomotives, there's been a lot of work on hybrids that put a storage device and some sort of generating device on the same chassis and the prior history discusses that work well.

     

    The NS patent is the first one to describe a battery only device that can only get power from the grid or from recuperation. It's also the first to take the tack that the functional unit is the train, rather than the locomotive, and users should be able to fine tune the level of hybridization to fit the specific needs of a particular route by mixing and matching diesel and battery electric so that Train A might be a heavy hybrid with four battery units and four diesel units while Train B might be a light hybrid with one battery unit and four diesels.

     

    Rail is one of those weird applications where they know the details of every acceleration event, deceleration event and grade change, being able to calculate the optimal amount of electric drive for a particular load over a particular route should allow them to do some pretty amazing things in terms of nailing fuel use down to very tight tolerances.

     

    If the railroads are collegial competitors rather than cutthroats, there's no particular advantage in one trying to circumvent another when they can just pay a royalty.
    27 Mar 2012, 12:57 AM Reply Like
  • jlyleluce
    , contributor
    Comments (260) | Send Message
     
    Just thinking out loud, but wondering if in Europe where lines are mostly electrified already, if there would be any economic advantage to placing a battery unit on the train with regenerative braking; or if this would just add additional and unnecessary expense. I guess it may depend on the cost of electricity in each country. Some routes in Switzerland would offer some opportunities for regenerative braking.
    27 Mar 2012, 02:57 AM Reply Like
  • jlyleluce
    , contributor
    Comments (260) | Send Message
     
    Additionally, I was wondering why NS didn't file patents for the NS 999 back when work started on it, then went back and looked at the patent application and saw it was filed in 2009 - before work with Axion. Perhaps it was amended if indeed it somewhat describes the PbC.
    27 Mar 2012, 03:17 AM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30453) | Send Message
     
    All of the Swiss trains have recuperative braking because there's a lot of up and down even in the flats. When you get to the mountain trains, the energy conserved through recuperation represents up to a third of total system load. While I can't speak for the rest of Europe, the Swiss train system has its own power grid that isn't directly tied to the rest of the electrical system. That's why we had a tremendously embarrassing situation a few years back where the trains stopped running because of a problem on the rail transport grid while everything else kept on ticking like a fine watch.
    27 Mar 2012, 03:42 AM Reply Like
  • LT
    , contributor
    Comments (5511) | Send Message
     
    J, I think they have other patents filed .... such as the BMS, We discussed this some time back, I think it was after TG said they were talking to other rails (that may give you a timeline) Some thought it as a bit of retaliation to AXPW doing that...maybe after the PO did not come thru when first thought.
    This one was for the entire electric locomotive....That specifically had much wording centered around the batteries, the storage rack for them, Charging/Discharging, BMS numbers, etc.
    I can't help but believe that this was broad and specific because NS will rebuild/convert engines for other RR companies, and who knows maybe even try to build their own loco if the right opportunity came along. They have to protect themselves, as JP has stated they have spent a lot of $$$$ developing and testing this concept.
    There are several IF's, but Altoona Works does much work overhauling, and service work for any company. They may be headed toward doing a retrofit on a certain engine model for a fixed price or at least have a good idea of the cost up front....IF all works as planned.
    27 Mar 2012, 04:11 AM Reply Like
  • jlyleluce
    , contributor
    Comments (260) | Send Message
     
    John,
    thanks for reply.
    27 Mar 2012, 06:05 AM Reply Like
  • jakurtz
    , contributor
    Comments (1888) | Send Message
     
    LT: "I think they have other patents filed .... such as the BMS, We discussed this some time back, I think it was after TG said they were talking to other rails (that may give you a timeline) Some thought it as a bit of retaliation to AXPW doing that..."

     

    Sorry if I sound annoyed or offensive (this is not directed at you) but the above comment sounds like the irrational mind pollution one gets from reading brand x too often. The statement is the worst kind of uninformed speculation and I can only imagine it came from the grossly misleading trove on that other message board.

     

    NS's patent for the BMS was not after TG said they were talking to other rails, it was mentioned in Norfolk Southern's 2011 sustainability report that came out in June of last year and reads, "Currently, we are working with industry partners on a second-generation lead-carbon battery system. We have applied for a patent on the technology developed to manage the pioneering battery system."

     

    TG said they were speaking with other railroads in Nov. on the earnings release. It would be insane to speculate that NS got "mad" at Axion before the report of June and filed a patent quickly before the report came out just to "get even".

     

    LT, I know this is not from you but these notions of companies getting mad Exide/Axion NS/Axion and doing something for retaliation is silly, imo, as if these companies have personal feelings that get hurt and don't have the professional understanding that business is business.
    27 Mar 2012, 07:29 AM Reply Like
  • H. T. Love
    , contributor
    Comments (18439) | Send Message
     
    "... don't have the professional understanding that business is business"

     

    Like Larry Ellison and Mark Hurd? Oracle/HP anyone?

     

    'Course, exceptions to every rule.

     

    Folks get mad everywhere, even here, over much smaller sums of money.

     

    MHO,
    HardToLove
    27 Mar 2012, 08:01 AM Reply Like
  • jakurtz
    , contributor
    Comments (1888) | Send Message
     
    Uggh, my blanket statement slaps me in the face again...but I did think we were talking about professionals?
    27 Mar 2012, 08:20 AM Reply Like
  • D. McHattie
    , contributor
    Comments (1844) | Send Message
     
    I wonder what the cost of maintaining all those kilometers of electrified rail lines is relative to the cost of PbC.

     

    D
    27 Mar 2012, 09:07 AM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30453) | Send Message
     
    A battery management system would be hard to patent because it's basically a computer system and associated software that controls the way batteries, electromechanical components, sensors and control devices work together.

     

    The core BMS was developed by Axion to control the PowerCube. That core Axion BMS was modified to work in the NS 999. NS only owns the specific improvements that were made to customize the Axion BMS for its locomotive applications.

     

    The most interesting aspect of a BMS is that it's almost always designed to manage a particular type of storage device. Axion's BMS for the PbC would not be an effective way to manage any other battery chemistry like lithium-ion, NiCd, NiMH or perhaps even AGM. A123's BMS would be worthless at controlling a string of PbCs.

     

    The only exception I'm aware of is the multi-device management system developed by ZBB.

     

    When Norfolk Southern tapped Axion to build a BMS for the NS 999, it did so knowing full well that the money spent would be wasted if it decided to use somebody else's batteries.
    27 Mar 2012, 09:13 AM Reply Like
  • thotdoc
    , contributor
    Comments (1839) | Send Message
     
    Patented new electronic locomotive!!!

     

    Impressive how PbC will change things.

     

    Breathe slowly, good things are coming. Keep saying, "Good things take time to play out". Breathe slowly. Oh! Buy more AXPW.
    26 Mar 2012, 06:49 PM Reply Like
  • jlyleluce
    , contributor
    Comments (260) | Send Message
     
    thotdoc,
    Your feeding my addiction. I'm glad I'm not trying to quit smoking around you.
    27 Mar 2012, 03:02 AM Reply Like
  • foolcd
    , contributor
    Comments (13) | Send Message
     
    As I don't have much time to contribute in a meaningful way to this APC, I haven't commented before here but finally I could not resist any longer. I have been reading all JP articles since 2008 although I must admit that after some time, I could no longer keep up with the high number of comments and reactions to all these articles and was only reading some of them!

     

    First I want to congratulate John for all his hard work and the incredible drive and energy he has put in it. Of course I also understand that he is a very interested party in convincing a lot of people of Axion value and turning them into long term shareholders but the amount of time put into it remains impressive. I have also read day after day all these APC and I want to thank all the persons having made the APC what it has become (the founder, the new host, the web site creators and many more).

     

    As a shareholder of AXPW since 4 years (never sold a single share and averaged down and down ... making it a very large position for me ... but started to buy way too early ...), the end of last year was really difficult (as for all of us shareholders) and it was great to have this blog to understand that there was actually nothing new at AXPW causing the share price relentless fall.

     

    I am well aware of the anti-troll policy on this blog and will certainly try to respect it. Still from time to time I have got the impression that critical questions are a bit too quickly considered as aggressive.

     

    As already expressed a lot on the APC, I have also been very disappointed in the low price of the new shares issued for the Axion refinancing and have been sitting with a question since the first time I heard TG mention the need for a refinancing but since nobody ever asked it, I finally decided to ask it myself...

     

    Why was the financing done through a private group of shareholders and not through a rights offering where all shareholders could have participated ? The shareholders could have been granted a subscription right for each multiple of n shares. Doing it that way all shareholders could have bought additional shares at the cheaper price. For other stocks I have, this happens regularly and I was surprised it was not the case here.
    Is there any valid reason why they proceeded the way they did ? I know as was already mentioned that since this private offering we were able to buy shares within a 10% range but still I don't find it fair that we were not offered the same possibility as this preferred group.

     

    Am I the only person that was surprised ? Thank you for any explanation.
    27 Mar 2012, 01:50 AM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30453) | Send Message
     
    Rights offerings are odd. When they work they can be wonderful, but when they don't work they can do a lot of damage.

     

    The problem with rights offerings is that they're strictly proportional to holdings, so unless a company has a high level of confidence that ALL its stockholders will participate in a rights offering, it has to come up with standby plans and find somebody else to buy the shares that existing stockholders didn't want or couldn't afford. It can be a very tough sell to a standby underwriter.

     

    The other big problem with rights offerings is that they have to be registered in every state where stockholders live, which can make them very expensive.

     

    The idea of a rights offering has huge emotional appeal to stockholders and management teams. I've been through the discussion with clients more times than I can count over the last 30 years. After all of those discussions of pros and cons, I've never had a client decide that a rights offering was best for them. I keep a very close eye on stock offerings by clients and their competitors. I have not seen a successful rights offering in years.

     

    To take it down to a very personal level, I own 1.5 million shares and a one for one rights offering would have required me to write a $525,000 check on 20 or 30 days notice. Absent a minor miracle, I couldn't have done it.
    27 Mar 2012, 02:23 AM Reply Like
  • jlyleluce
    , contributor
    Comments (260) | Send Message
     
    Welcome to the concentrator foolcd. Nice question and one that I wouldn't have known to ask. So your participation has been educational for me.
    27 Mar 2012, 02:51 AM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30453) | Send Message
     
    FWIW, if I had a spare half million in cash lying around I would be in the market right now averaging down and it wouldn't bother me a bit that somebody else recently bought stock for a nickel less.
    27 Mar 2012, 02:55 AM Reply Like
  • H. T. Love
    , contributor
    Comments (18439) | Send Message
     
    Welcome Foolcd!

     

    I had hoped I might get a chance through an offering to get shares and warrants - just wishful thinking though.

     

    Yours was a great question and something I don't recall being previously addressed. But that could be just my memory having no ECC.

     

    What took you so long?! :-))

     

    JP's reply was something new to me. Thanks for the question and, to John, thanks for the new information.

     

    Look forward to "seeing" you again when you can make it over here!

     

    HardToLove
    27 Mar 2012, 03:40 AM Reply Like
  • foolcd
    , contributor
    Comments (13) | Send Message
     
    Thank you for your welcome.

     

    HTL: it took me so long just b/c I have already so much I'd like to read that I preferred not to start writing. Also it takes me some time to write as English is my third language and I'm not used to write about financials. But now with the conference call approaching, I wanted to know if I would get an answer here or would have to ask it at the call.

     

    JP: Thank you for your quick answer. I also supposed that the legal complexity would have been higher for a right offering and so understand it might have influence their choice. And higher complexity generally means higher cost but given how high the cost already was for the offering they did, I wonder if it might have been higher still. Your example about a 1 for 1 offering is of course extreme, I would have considered a much lower number of shares, a bit like they did but slightly higher for increased security. From my personal experience with stocks I own, sometimes the offered rights can also be sold/bought publicly on the stock exchange and so at the end of the day only the persons interested in buying new shares will hold the rights and the other will have sold them, which IMO decreases the risk of a failed offering. The latest stock in my portfolio that did an offering was NTN (incredibly small) and they did an offering to the current shareholders and also a private offering at the same terms if I understood well (I am more a technical person than a legal one so I could easily have missed a subtlety somewhere). But by and large, I think you are right and it is simply the uncertainty related to that kind of offering that guided their choice.
    27 Mar 2012, 04:46 AM Reply Like
  • jlyleluce
    , contributor
    Comments (260) | Send Message
     
    You write in your third language (English) very well.
    27 Mar 2012, 05:04 AM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30453) | Send Message
     
    It's a combination of certainty, cost and speed. Fairly early on I said that were I a decision maker at Axion, I would want the offering to be a first quarter event even though the available cash at year-end would have theoretically lasted through the second quarter.

     

    My reasoning would have been simple. Axion's year end balance sheet is going to be weak just like it's September balance sheet was. If the financing was put off until after the auditor's report was issued, the report would have included a "going concern" qualification. Those are never received well by the market.

     

    By completing the offering before the audit report issued, there will be no need for a going concern qualification in the auditor's opinion. I've been in a couple situations where that same dynamic existed and the choice was always to get the financing done in Q1.
    27 Mar 2012, 05:05 AM Reply Like
  • H. T. Love
    , contributor
    Comments (18439) | Send Message
     
    Yeah, I didn't even detect any accent! ;-))

     

    HardToLove
    27 Mar 2012, 05:16 AM Reply Like
  • LT
    , contributor
    Comments (5511) | Send Message
     
    Thoughts for consideration, NS patent.... I hope we aren't reading too much into this patent and I don't think we are...
    This is just like auto's, it could be 2-5 years before it blossoms. But with a little vivid imagination, with all the $$$ thrown at clean energy in all fields, Think what would happen if you fast tracked this and either converted or built a retrofit facility ...say one on the east coast, and one on the west coast to do these retrofits...
    That would create many jobs overnight, reduce oil imports, reduce carbon, reduce air pollution(especially in terminals and switch yards, and begin a new path for the rail industry (which I think will continue to grow). For the $$$ spent even with gov't help...it would be a give me for a grant or free interest loan.
    I was reading where student loans are on pace to double almost overnight (they are at over $1T now), so a lot of kids could go to vocational school to be welders, electricians, mechanics, etc. to do this with much less cost and have a lifetime of good paying jobs that can't be off shored. All while being somewhat profitable to the RR's and environment just in fuel savings.
    I am not smart enough to carry this further, but hope AXPW & NS read this and fast track the good ideas. I know that I could sell this idea much easier than AONE's defective batteries.
    27 Mar 2012, 04:37 AM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30453) | Send Message
     
    To put a bit of color on the issue, I just checked NS' Form 10-K and learned that they spent $1.5 billion on fuel last year and earned $3 billion pre-tax. So every 2% reduction of fuel costs could represent a 1% increase in their pre-tax income.

     

    It gets really spooky when you flow that through the market. NS trades at 12.14 times TTM earnings. A 10% fuel savings per year ($150 million) would boost their net earnings after tax by about $100 million, but it would boost their market capitalization by $1.2 billion.

     

    These are very big numbers so there's a lot of benefit from doing it right.
    27 Mar 2012, 05:15 AM Reply Like
  • metroneanderthal
    , contributor
    Comments (1511) | Send Message
     
    John,
    Thanks, that puts some quantitative perspective on why this is important for NS.
    27 Mar 2012, 06:22 AM Reply Like
  • wtblanchard
    , contributor
    Comments (2435) | Send Message
     
    Which makes me wonder JP about your previous statement:

     

    "If the railroads are collegial competitors rather than cutthroats, there's no particular advantage in one trying to circumvent another when they can just pay a royalty."

     

    Big money at stake. Either all to the bottom line, or reduce prices and gain volume on selected competitive routes which would also increase profits.

     

    Getting out of simulation mode is one thing, but how long will they do real world testing before they really ramp up?

     

    And how fast could they ramp up? Might take a big investment to ramp up significantly. Somehow, I don't see Altoona doing a lot of this type of conversion work for others till they take full advantage for themselves. And given how many mountainous routes and the large coal biz, it would seem they will have a lot of applicable routes.

     

    Maybe if some big government grant carrot came along to help pay for rapid expansion with the "provide it to others stick," things might be different.

     

    None of which should be a big issue for AXPW for quite a while ... let's just get some significant sales going and grow the mindshare!
    27 Mar 2012, 12:43 PM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30453) | Send Message
     
    If one of the four big railroads takes an important step to slashing rail yard emissions I have to believe the regulators would be all over them to share the development on reasonable terms. I also have to believe that if one of the major railroads slashes its yard pollution, cities across the country will be screaming bloody murder for their friendly neighborhood rail yard operator to follow suit yesterday.

     

    The green goat was a partial solution that booked orders for over 150 units in very short order. So there's not much question about demand. For now I just want NS and Axion to build a better mousetrap so the world will beat a path to their doors.
    27 Mar 2012, 01:05 PM Reply Like
  • amishelvis
    , contributor
    Comments (143) | Send Message
     
    I think its extremely bullish that NS is trying to nail down some of the BMS tech, that wouldnt be the case if they werent happy with the results to date.
    I worry it may be a bit of a moat for other RR's to deal with, then again, they have a series of shops, and I'm sure they would love to make some extry mulah by manufacturing, or rehabing old green goats for others.
    Maybe we can get some color in the cc.
    27 Mar 2012, 04:53 AM Reply Like
  • H. T. Love
    , contributor
    Comments (18439) | Send Message
     
    Amishelvis: "Maybe we can get some color in the cc"

     

    That would be nice, but I would be surprised. I'm just thinking that TG would have to be very circumspect when addressing what a potential customer might be planning, even if he is certain he knows.

     

    At best I would *guess* he could say something like "... are proceeding with their plans and we expect big things from them down the road". And after stating he expected the NSC PO in Q4 last year, even though they had slipped their original schedule, he's probably going to be a tad more cautious about pinning any kind of time-frame to anything outside his control.

     

    <*sigh*>

     

    All MHO, of course,
    HardToLove
    27 Mar 2012, 05:11 AM Reply Like
  • Al Marshall
    , contributor
    Comments (556) | Send Message
     
    Article from MIT Technology Review about Ideal Power Converters. This company has developed a much smaller inverter for solar power systems that will be commercially available in May. The product mentioned is only 30kw so maybe they haven't scaled it up yet to be useful in a power cube.

     

    I'm presuming inverters aren't needed in locomotives.

     

    http://bit.ly/HefGDy
    27 Mar 2012, 10:05 AM Reply Like
  • siliconhillbilly
    , contributor
    Comments (2357) | Send Message
     
    apm: Inverters are a big part of electric traction drive these days, although they might not actually be called "inverters".

     

    All modern high power motors are either "DC" types that use solid state "commutators" or they are variable frequency AC induction motors that have an inverter to convert the battery DC into a variable frequency AC current for the motors. Either way, the high power switching/control of the electric power is done by semiconductor switches. That meets the general definition of "solid state inverter" for any power switching design engineer I know.
    27 Mar 2012, 11:59 PM Reply Like
  • steeleydock
    , contributor
    Comments (32) | Send Message
     
    What do you think of this?
    http://yhoo.it/HhdJZN
    27 Mar 2012, 10:56 AM Reply Like
  • jveal
    , contributor
    Comments (659) | Send Message
     
    BMW is covering all bases in its R&D. The PbC and Lithium are not in direct competition in automobiles. Axion is shooting for the micro hybrid application with Stop/Start. The lithium is much better at running an electric motor that actually takes the place of the internal combustion engine, both in a hybrid or total electric where size and weight are a big factor.
    27 Mar 2012, 03:03 PM Reply Like
  • thotdoc
    , contributor
    Comments (1839) | Send Message
     
    A company diversifying its options.
    27 Mar 2012, 11:12 AM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30453) | Send Message
     
    WAY OT: I just got a Skype call from a kindred spirit in the Bay Area who is looking for a short term convergence between A123's name and stock price. With today's range at $1.27 to $1.53, I have to believe $1.23 is not out of the realm of possibility.
    27 Mar 2012, 11:33 AM Reply Like
  • magounsq
    , contributor
    Comments (990) | Send Message
     
    An interesting WSJ report on energy dated March 26, 2012.
    As JP has stated...no one silver bullet.

     

    One article...
    In Search of One Energy Miracle
    Bill Gates on the need to think big

     

    http://on.wsj.com/Hb9ek5

     

    "MR. GATES: You can have a miracle having to do with the rest of these energy sources, whether it's sun, wind or biofuel. The amount of land involved, the place that you can do it suitably and—in the case of wind and sun—the intermittency create a huge problem. All of them require storage and transmission."
    27 Mar 2012, 03:04 PM Reply Like
  • Al Marshall
    , contributor
    Comments (556) | Send Message
     
    I was just reading that section. In addition to multiple references about storage, I thought JP would appreciate a couple of other quotes:

     

    First, from Proctor & Gamble's CEO R. McDonald: "Our research suggests 15% of consumers are looking for a sustainable product and are willing to take trade-offs in that product". Of course, he's talking about stuff like laundry soap not something that costs 4 orders of magnitude more than that. Wonder what that'd do to the 15%.

     

    The second was from Vinod Khosla. "One of the issues [regarding climate change] is the approach that environmentalists have taken. They have focused on what we should do instead of focusing on what people will do, which is mostly about economics. What people do is not defy the laws of economic gravity, as I like to put it."
    27 Mar 2012, 03:42 PM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30453) | Send Message
     
    There are a lot of folks out there who understand the problem, but there are even more that don't. While I'm a fatalist when it comes to CO2 and think that problem's insoluble, I don't think I'd have much in the way of disagreements with either Gates or Khsola.
    27 Mar 2012, 04:06 PM Reply Like
  • magounsq
    , contributor
    Comments (990) | Send Message
     
    EPA Proposes Strict Limits on Coal Plants
    http://on.wsj.com/HaDQ10

     

    And the noose tightens...and NATGAS may get a boost (no pun intended)
    ""This is a very important step and it's really going to reinforce the market trend" of natural-gas-fired plants, said David Doniger of the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group. Cheap natural gas has already made new coal plants unattractive, he said, but the new rule will encourage future plants to seek advanced carbon-capture technology if coal is to stay in the game."
    27 Mar 2012, 03:12 PM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30453) | Send Message
     
    The Wall Street Journal reports that Azure Dynamics, the maker of the Ford Electric Transit Connect has filed a bankruptcy reorganization in Canada.

     

    http://on.wsj.com/HcnfeU

     

    "Juris Pagrabs, vice president of investor relations, said Azure's best chance of resuming production is if another company purchases its electric-vehicle assembly business. Without a buyer, production would likely be permanently halted, he said."

     

    They were a JCI (formerly JCI-Saft) customer.
    27 Mar 2012, 04:29 PM Reply Like
  • carlosgaviria
    , contributor
    Comments (798) | Send Message
     
    Today add 5,000 more!
    27 Mar 2012, 07:19 PM Reply Like
  • siliconhillbilly
    , contributor
    Comments (2357) | Send Message
     
    TM9 actually managed to be humorous!

     

    But she does seem to be as geeky as many on this blog. Imagine spending the time composing her opus without the slightest possibility of monetary reward.
    I suppose the fleeting fame of having most of your remarks deleted is sufficient for the effort.
    28 Mar 2012, 12:29 AM Reply Like
  • 481086
    , contributor
    Comments (3442) | Send Message
     
    Shitfire! Did I miss a TM9 opus? That brings a tear to me one good eye! Arrgh!
    28 Mar 2012, 02:48 AM Reply Like
  • John Petersen
    , contributor
    Comments (30453) | Send Message
     
    It was just a re-post of an inane message. You didn't miss anything.
    28 Mar 2012, 03:40 AM Reply Like
  • Axion Power Host
    , contributor
    Comments (497) | Send Message
     
    Author’s reply » 888888888888888888888

     

    Another new concentrator ready for use!

     

    http://seekingalpha.co...

     

    888888888888888888888
    28 Mar 2012, 05:00 AM Reply Like
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