Electric car battery productionGeneral Motors and a...

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Electric car battery production

General Motors and a battery technology company will start commercial-scale production of nickel metal-hydride batteries for electric cars next year, the companies announced yesterday.

Nickel metal-hydrides store about twice as much electricity per pound as lead-acid batteries, and can deliver the energy quickly. A Geo Metro converted to electricity with nickel metal-hydrides won a electric car race in Phoenix early this year by traveling more than 200 miles at highway speeds without recharging.

The batteries, already in wide use in laptop computers, were developed by Ovonic Battery, a subsidiary of Energy Conversion Devices, of Troy, Mich.

Essex gets OK on stock offering

Essex Corp., a Columbia-based technology firm, has received clearance from the Securities and Exchange Commission to proceed with the secondary stock offering it announced in August.

The company is planning the offering, which consists of units of 70 shares of newly issued stock and a warrant that locks in a price to purchase 25 additional shares, to raise about $2.5 million to build a prototype and launch manufacturing of new optical electronic technologies.

New rules on poultry proposed

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Department yesterday proposed tougher rules to require poultry products deboned by machines to be labeled "mechanically separated."

At the same time, Michael R. Taylor, USDA acting undersecretary for food safety, said the department was about to liberalize a similar rule for mechanically separated red meat.

The rule changes are the latest in a series that increase the regulatory burden on poultry producers while lowering those on companies manufacturing beef and pork.

Red meat companies have complained that poultry producers have had it too easy.

Whirlpool stock tumbles

The stock of appliance giant Whirlpool Corp. tumbled yesterday on news it is halting shipments to discount retailer Best Buy Co. and that Whirlpool is being investigated by the Justice Department for price practices, industry analysts said.

Shares of the Benton Harbor, Mich.-based manufacturer dropped $2.25, to $46.50, on the New York Stock Exchange.

Analysts said the probe, disclosed Thursday, could make it difficult for Whirlpool to raise prices, something the company needs to do to protect its profits in the face of new challenges from low-cost producers.

Also Thursday, Best Buy said Whirlpool informed the retailer it will halt shipments of its Whirlpool brand appliances in the 1995 model year but will continue to sell its Roper brand to Best Buy. Analysts said the move could cost Whirlpool more than $100 million in lost sales.

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