additional battery developers and materials suppliers are anticipated to join the alliance

Three cars based on the Nissan Dualis will operate as normal taxis on the city’s streets during the 90-day experiment, a joint project with Better Place, a US firm specialising in providing electric vehicle infrastructure.

Watch out Energizer Bunny. Robot Evolta kept climbing and climbing _ up a rope dangling from a Grand Canyon cliff for nearly seven hours on a pair of AA batteries that Japan’s Panasonic is billing as the world’s longest lasting.

To prove how durable its new alkaline batteries are, Panasonic had the 5-ounce, 6.7-inch blue imp clasp a rope with its arms and feet and climb as far and long as it could. That turned out to be some 1,740 feet over the course of six hours and 46 minutes, Panasonic, also known as Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., said Tuesday.

The company says the new battery cell _ called Evolta, combining “evolution” and “voltage” _ can keep gadgets running 20 percent longer than offerings from rivals Duracell and Energizer. Fourteen US technology companies, laying down the gauntlet in a field dominated by Asia, announced Thursday that they have formed an alliance to manufacture lithium ion batteries for electric cars.

US industrial conglomerate 3M is among the companies which have joined forces in the venture with the Argonne National Laboratory, a Chicago-based developer of new battery technologies, the alliance said in a statement.

Developing the capability to mass manufacture advanced battery cells is expected to require investment of one to two billion US dollars over five years, it said, most of which is expected to come from the federal government.

Computer makers are recalling 100,000 laptop battery packs made by Sony after 40 reports of overheating, according to a U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission notice. A Sony Australia spokeswoman would not comment on how many of the affected batteries had been sold with laptops in Australia.

The voluntary recall applies to certain Sony 2.15Ah lithium-ion cell batteries made in Japan and sold around the world in laptops made by Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Toshiba. Apple is offering to replace faulty batteries in iPod nanos in Japan following a government warning that the popular music players may pose a fire hazard, a company spokesman said Thursday.

Some incidents involved smoke or flames, according to Sony. Twenty-one of the reports claimed minor property damage, and small burns were reported in four cases. Advertisement: Story continues below “Tokyo can become the capital of electric vehicles,” said Kiyotaka Fujii, president of the Japanese unit of Better Place.

Sony blamed two factors for the defects: adjustments on its manufacturing line from October 2004 to June 2005, which may have affected the quality of cells in certain production lots; and a possible flaw in the metal foil for electrodes.

The new research project, called Steeper, also aims to decrease the energy needs of other electronic devices like TV sets or supercomputers by 10 times when active, and to virtually eliminate power consumption when they are in standby mode.

German automaker Volkswagen AG will team up with Japan’s Sanyo Electric to develop a lithium-ion battery for next-generation hybrid vehicles, the Japanese company announced Wednesday. Making a mobile battery last ten times longer is a first target for a large research project that IBM, Infineon and a number of European universities unveiled this week.

By joining forces with Sanyo, which aims to be a world leader in rechargeable batteries, Volkswagen is apparently seeking to catch up with rivals in the race to develop and sell eco-friendly vehicles.

It’s the first EV battery deal with a major automaker for Toshiba, which already makes batteries for laptops and cell phones, said company spokesman Ken Shinjo. Production will start sometime next year, in a new facility in Niigata, northern Japan, according to Toshiba.

Green vehicles are drawing interest because of concerns about global warming and pollution, setting off a competition among electronics makers _ as well as automakers _ in hybrids, plug-ins and electric vehicles.

The deal, signed last month with Johnson Controls Inc., based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, centers around lithium-ion batteries _ already widely used in laptops and other gadgets but starting to take off in auto technology such as hybrids and electric vehicles.

Terms of the deal were not released. The areas of cooperation will span sales, marketing and standardization, and the companies may also work together in energy storage technology, they said. Sanyo and Volkswagen have worked together in the past in battery development. The Japanese company has also supplied nickel-metal hydride batteries to Ford Motor Co. and Honda Motor Co.

The earlier recall came after two reports of the batteries overheating. The commission said that since then, HP has received 38 additional reports of the batteries overheating, causing 11 minor injuries. Those people were burned when they handled computers whose batteries had ruptured, said CPSC spokesman Scott Wolfson.

Batteries can rupture if they’ve been charged too long and don’t have a good way to regulate the excess heat. Wolfson added that the industry is working to change that. The recall was announced Friday by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and expands an earlier recall of 70,000 of the same type of batteries.

Lenovo said Thursday it sold the extended-life batteries with new ThinkPad notebook PCs or as optional or replacement batteries for ThinkPad notebook models R60, R60e, T60, T60p, Z60m, Z61e, Z61m, and Z61p. The recalled nine-cell batteries have the part number FRU P/N 92P1131.

The US Department of Energy’s Argonne lab will “serve in an advisory role as the alliance begins operations,” it said, adding that “additional battery developers and materials suppliers are anticipated to join the alliance.”

It said US truck and carmakers are “expected to play an important role in the alliance” and would be invited to serve on its board along with representatives of the Department of Defense. Lenovo bought IBM’s personal computer division in 2005 and about 1,500 of Lenovo’s 20,000 employees work in Research Triangle Park.

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