Ovonic Battery Company Extends NiMH License with GS Yuasa

Ovonic Battery Company, Inc. (OBC) today announced it has extended its license agreement with GS Yuasa International Ltd. The subsidiary of Energy Conversion Devices, Inc. (ECD) (Nasdaq: ENER), is granting GS Yuasa a license to use nickel-metal-hydride (NiMH) technology developed and patented by OBC.

GS Yuasa is a holding company established by Yuasa Corporation and Japan Storage Battery Co., Ltd. (JSB). Yuasa has been an Ovonic licensee since 1995, and JSB has been an OBC licensee since 1999. The new agreement extends the license for the life of licensed patents.

GS Yuasa businesses include the manufacture and supply of batteries, power supply systems, lighting equipment, and specialty other electrical equipment. It will supply lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles to PSA Peugeot Citroën starting next year. GS Yuasa currently sells lithium ion batteries to Mitsubishi Motors for use in the i-MiEV electric car.

Last month Energy Conversion Devices announced that it is trying to sell its Ovonic Battery subsidiary. OBC’s principal activities are licensing its battery technologies (including nickel-metal-hydride – NiMH – once used on the ill-fated GM EV1), participating in joint development programs to support battery applications, and manufacturing mixed-metal hydroxide cathode materials for sale to its licensees for use in battery production. OBC invented the NiMH rechargeable battery technology that is used globally in most hybrid-electric vehicles, and in many consumer and commercial rechargeable batteries.

However, Lithium Ion technology is now preferred by virtually all automakers in new development programs. It is also heavily subsidized by taxpayers through various government grants.

Last May ECD reported a net loss of $243.2 million, or $4.88 per share, which included non-cash impairment charges of $222.8 million, or $4.47 per share, compared to a net loss of $385.0 million, or $9.10 per share, in the third fiscal quarter of 2010, which included a non-cash impairment charge of $358.0 million, or $8.46 per share.

“We are pleased to continue and extend our relationship with GS Yuasa, a global leader for consumer rechargeable batteries,” said Michael Fetcenko, President of Ovonic Battery Company.

“The market for NiMH continues to grow and expand into new areas, including industrial applications such as telecommunications, UPS and smart grid energy storage. OBC continues to advance NiMH technology to deliver improved performance, including energy, power, cycle life, high temperature performance and cost reduction. By providing new and existing licensees access to advanced technology, we facilitate market growth and increased royalty revenue,” said Fetcenko.

About Ken Zino

Ken Zino is an auto industry veteran with global experience in print, broadcast and electronic media. He has auto testing, marketing, public relations and communications expertise garnered while working in Asia, Europe and the U.S.
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