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U.S. Tech Companies Unite For Car Batteries, Seek Gov. Aid

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Electric vehicle makers in the U.S. have often complained that Asian firms are dominating the battery market, making it difficult to find battery options domestically — heck, even chip-maker Intel has been advised to look into the market partly because it’s so sparse. This morning, a group of more than a dozen U.S. tech companies say they are looking to solve that problem; they’re teaming up to build a plant to make next-gen electric vehicle batteries and asking the U.S. government for $1 billion to support the plan, according to the various media reports.

If the method — U.S. firms join up to battle Asian dominance — sounds familiar to all you old-school tech-watchers, that’s because it is. The group is modeling itself on Sematech, a coalition formed by U.S. chip companies in the late ’80s to compete with Japanese firms. The car battery consortium, known as the National Alliance for Advanced Transportation Battery Cell Manufacture, comprises: 3M (s MMM), Johnson Controls (s JCI), Saft, FMC (s FMC), EnerSys (s ENS), ActaCell, All Cell Technologies, Altair Nanotechnologies, Eagle Picher Industries, Envia Systems, MicroSun Technologies, Mobius Power, SiLyte, Superior Graphite and Townsend Advanced Energy.

The group, which is also being advised by Argonne National Labs, is planning to ask the Obama administration for roughly $1 billion in aid and loan guarantees, according to the Wall Street Journal (Reuters says it could be as high as $2 billion). The funds would be used for a shared advanced battery plant so the firms could bring down the cost, and raise the efficiency and performance of lithium ion batteries. With all the other auto companies and troubled industries also asking for handouts, we’re not sure how viable it is for the new group to secure that funding. But at least the consortium’s entire purpose is to research the next-generation of technology, and the funding wouldn’t go to prop up older failing business models (that’s you, Big Three).

17 Responses to “U.S. Tech Companies Unite For Car Batteries, Seek Gov. Aid”

  1. Revolutionary new energy conversion devices can be manufactured in many of the world’s existing factories. They are likely to prove inherently cost-competitive. Not only can they be used to power homes and businesses of every variety, but also to make practical cars, trucks and buses that need no engines, batteries, or any variety of conventional fuel or recharge.

    Advanced designs will soon be capable of producing torque and/or electricity on a self-sustaining basis. Devices without moving parts are comparable to an inexhaustible electric battery. One Proof-of-Concept prototype was evaluated by Lee Felsenstein, EE. He concluded it to be analogous to the early work on the transistor, which eventually led to a Nobel Prize and the creation of Silicon Valley.

    Generators we are developing are expected to generate this much power and demonstrate replacement of the plug needed by a plug-in hybrid car, within a year. This will be a harbinger of automobiles that need no conventional fuel. With normal progress, prototype new energy conversion systems are anticipated to replace an automobile engine within three years. That goal might be achieved more rapidly if development involves four teams of engineers and technicians working on a 24/7 basis. These prototypes will open a path to mass production of entirely new varieties of automotive power plants. Vehicles powered by these technologies will never require conventional fuel of any kind.

    Cars can earn income and become power plants when parked!

    Vehicle to grid (V2G) power was demonstrated by Google and PG&E during 2007. It was recently estimated that selling power to the grid from future production hybrid electric cars might earn the vehicles’ owner $4,000 each year. This assumes that power will be drawn by utilities from the car’s batteries, by means of a two-way, plug.
    In the future, cars powered by new energy conversion systems are expected to earn much more, as these generators are anticipated to replace both batteries and car engines. Therefore, they are expected to produce far greater amounts of electricity. No plug will be required.

  2. Ricardo Proença

    Wow, What a strange coincidence?! This is exactly what Andy Grove, former CEO of Intel, and Robert Burgelman, Professor of Strategy at Stanford, were saying in this McKinsey Quarterly article:

    “An electric plan for energy resilience”

    The same core argument about battery technology and even the same reference to Argonne National Labs.

    Something is brewing, definitely!