efforts to win world's premier electric car race 
Business Editors 
PHOENIX--(BUSINESS-WIRE)--March 8, 1996--That practical
electric cars are coming closer to reality was demonstrated earlier
this week at the world's premier electric car race. 
Held at the Firebird International Raceway, the race pits
competing electric-car technologies against each other in battles
designed to weed out the weak and identify the strong.  It was
sponsored by the Arizona Public Service Company (APS). 
In the contest's most "electrifying" battle, the featured Super
Stock division, an amateur driver, Dr. David Swan, went head-to-head
with Indy race champion Tom Sneva.  Swan drove an APS-owned Saturn
highly modified by AeroVironment Inc., of Monrovia, Calif., and
powered by an advanced Ovonic nickel-metal-hybride (NiMH) battery
Sneva drove Salt River Project's Ford Probe with a "quick
charge capable" lead acid battery system.  Amateur driver, Swan,
finished more than three laps ahead of his closest competitor,
Indy-car driver Sneva, who placed second. 
According to Swan, the real winners were AeroVironment's team of
electric vehicle professionals and the GM Ovonic NiMH batteries.
"Without the superb systems and energy storage optimization
modifications accomplished by AeroVironment personnel and the
excellent performance characteristics of the Ovonics batteries, I
couldn't have done as well," explained Swan. 
"Together with the outstanding support of Dr. John Dunning, of
Delphi-E, and Jim Mathis, of EV Power, we had a superb team.
However, we anticipated the race being much closer.  Actually, the
car had leftover energy due to the outstanding energy storage
capability of the Ovonic batteries." 
The state-of-the-art Ovonic NiMH battery pack was provided by GM
Ovonic, L.L.C., a joint venture between General Motors and Ovonic
Battery Company formed to manufacture the proprietary battery
technology for the emerging electric vehicle industry. 
Ovonic NiMH battery technology has achieved world-wide
recognition due to its ability to store over twice as much energy as
standard nickel cadmium ("Ni-Cd") or lead acid batteries of
equivalent weight.  Currently being manufactured and sold world-wide
under licensing and joint venture arrangements for consumer
electronics applications, these batteries will soon be available for
production EV applications. 
Ovonic Battery Company is a subsidiary of Energy Conversion
Devices Inc. (ECD).  As stated by Robert Stempel, chairman of ECD,
"These batteries won this race.  Ovonic NiMH batteries have long
cycle life, no memory effect, are maintenance free, and have
achieved specific energy of up to 95 Wh/kg in engineering samples." 
ECD is a leader in the synthesis of new materials and the
development of advanced production technologies and innovative
products.  Since its founding in 1960, ECD's research and
development efforts have focused on amorphous and disordered
materials.  ECD has developed its Ovonic materials, production
technology, and products in the areas of energy, information, and
synthetic materials. 
AeroVironment Inc., where Swan heads the Energy Storage Systems
Group, has an international reputation in electric vehicle
technology.  In 1981, a manned test bed solar-powered aircraft
developed by AeroVironment flew 163 miles from Paris to England on
solar power alone. 
This vehicle, the "Solar Challenger," is now owned by the
Smithsonian Institute's National Air and Space Museum.  In 1987,
AeroVironment developed the solar-powered General Motors "Sunraycer"
which handily won the world's first solar-powered car race across
Australia traveling 1950 miles in 5 days. 
Following that success, AeroVironment also helped GM design,
build, and test the prototype "Impact" electric vehicles which have
been demonstrated in several U.S. cities over the past two years.
In January 1996, General Motors announced that "EV-1", a production
electric vehicle based on "Impact", would be entering the market
this fall starting in the states of Arizona and California. 
Today, AeroVironment continues to provide pioneering products
and services in electric/hybrid vehicles, solar-electric and
battery-powered remotely-piloted aircraft, alternative energy
systems, and environmental services. 
For additional information, contact Ted Wierzbanowski at
818/357-9983, Fax 818/358-1691.
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