Despite the fact that the U.S. authorities have already pledged an enormous amount of money to the electric vehicle industry and improvements in battery technology, the Obama administration has this week pledged a further $36 million. This funding will be invested in the Robust Affordable Next Generation Energy storage systems program (RANGE) which will speed up the development of new battery technology.
While there is no doubt that additional investment in battery development and battery technology has been required for some time, there is growing speculation that this enormous investment by the U.S. government could open the floodgates and see the electric vehicle market finally reach its potential.
Why has it taken so long?
As we have mentioned on numerous occasions, battery technology has received the least amount of investment over the years compared to electric vehicle manufacturers. It seems that many governments and companies involved in the EV industry had failed to adequately predict the journey capacity issues and the fact that this was one problem which would figure prominently in the minds of potential EV drivers.
Quote from ElectricForum.com : "There seems to be a lot going on behind the scenes in the battery sector - rumors that IBM is working on a battery which can do 500 miles per full charge. There is even talk of a battery which can do 1000 miles per full charge but it might not be rechargeable."
The U.S. government is in some ways reacting to the Chinese authorities who recently announced plans to make China one of the largest EV manufacturers in the world. Many had automatically assumed that the U.S. would be the centre of the electric vehicle industry going forward, although there is now competition which has prompted further investment by the U.S. government.
Will this take us over the line?
The technology associated with electric vehicles has improved dramatically, battery technology continues to improve, and the number of electric car charging stations has multiplied in recent times. In many ways the foundations are set for an attempt at the automobile mass-market with one potential stumbling block in the shape of government income from the oil industry, which will at some stage need to be replaced as we move more and more towards electric vehicle travel.
This offers a very difficult situation for governments around the world because if they penalised the EV industry too early with new taxes and new charges it could stall the ongoing progress. However, if governments around the world leave it too late then this will put more and more pressure upon their domestic budgets and lead to possible cuts in public-sector investment. Make no mistake about it, we are now entering a very important phase of development for the electric vehicle market which will need to be addressed in tandem with government income requirements.
As we touched on above, at some point, the EV industry and EV enthusiasts will be required to repay the lion’s share of the significant investment the industry has attracted. Whether this happens two years down the line, five years down the line or even a decade down the line, it will eventually emerge and will test the mettle of the EV industry and demand for this relatively new mode of transport.
Slowly but surely, the industry continues to manoeuvre over every hurdle put in its way and while the issue of government income from the oil industry and EV sector will become more prominent in the future, this issue should not end the relentless move to the mass-market we have seen of late.