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Aerovironment Inc. and GM Ovonic combine efforts to win world's premier electric car race.

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 system.

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.

CONTACT: AeroVironment Inc., Monrovia

Ted Wierzbanowski, 818/357-9983
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Mar 8, 1996
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