Battery makers are hoping to earn a $1 billion worth of funding to be able to build a plant that will allow them to collaborate and make lithium batteries for vehicles.
14 US companies have joined together, including the likes of 3M Co and Johnson Controls-Saft. The collaboration hopes to receive the money over the next five years in the hope that the collaboration will be able to excel with the production of lithium batteries for vehicles.
The importance of the lithium batteries has been highlighted by the National Alliance for Advanced Transportation Battery Cell Manufacture, the name given to the collaboration of battery manufacturers. The Alliance claims that lithium batteries “are anticipated to replace gasoline as the principal source of energy in future cars and military vehicles.”
The Alliance went on to say, “Today, United States automobile manufacturers and defence contractors depend upon foreign suppliers — increasingly concentrated in Asia — for lithium ion battery cells.”
Analysts claim that the United States are losing a race against their European and Asian competition to bring the technology to the public. A key example is the recent announcement by General Motors that they are looking into using a foreign battery supplier for their upcoming Chevrolet Volt.
Leading the Alliance’s petition is the Chicago lawyer, James Greenberger, claims that the group are looking to create one or more facilities that would allow the Alliance to work together to develop the lithium batteries as quickly as possible.
Greenberg said, “We think this is the most effective way that government can leverage public money to both establish lithium ion battery manufacture in the United States and revitalize the automotive industry in the long term.”
Ralph Brodd, battery manufacturer consultant, claimed that the collaboration was necessary for the industry to continue. “A small, fragmented battery industry will not long survive in the face of determined Asian competition. Other countries are investing heavily in the manufacture of lithium ion cells. Those countries understand that whoever makes the batteries will one day make the cars.”
And the need for the technology is also being seen as a great boost for employment rates, claims Alex Molinaroli, president of Johnson Control’s power solutions division. “I don’t think it’s good enough that the American consumer is going to have a vehicle that’s electrified or have hybrid capabilities. It doesn’t help us if we have no capability in the U.S.”
Greenberg went on to discuss the situation with President-elect Barack Obama. “We have been told very expressly that nothing has been endorsed, but our hope is that this is an idea that will attract a lot of support in a new administration,” Greenberg commented.
A former director of Sematech, Sanford Kane, commented on the importance of lithium batteries for cars, saying, “Sematech played a key role in improving manufacturing in the US semiconductor industry. Batteries will be to automobiles what semiconductors were to computers.”