US Department of Energy Announces Battery Consortium

US Department of Energy announces battery consortium
US Department of Energy announces battery consortium

While much of the focus has been upon electric car technology in recent times, there is no doubt that battery technology has fallen somewhere behind the advancements in EV technology. As a consequence, the U.S. Department of Energy has announced the "U.S. Advanced Battery Consortium", which will be in charge of developing and researching an array of different battery technologies within the U.S.. This is a major step forward for the electric car industry because until recently, the vast majority of finance was focused upon electric vehicle technology as opposed to battery technology.

Who will manage the US Advanced Battery Consortium?

While very often government ideas and government projects seem to incorporate party political alliances, the U.S. Advanced Battery Consortium will actually be managed by Chrysler, Ford and General Motors. Finally, it seems that the industry will be in charge of research and development and those who have perhaps limited experience, from the political spectrum, will be held at arm's length.

It is unclear whether this change in policy may be something to do with the Fisker situation as this seemed to flag a number of concerns with regards to taxpayer funded initiatives. There were rumours that due diligence was not deep enough which eventually led to the U.S. taxpayer taking a hit of $171 million when the company faltered. Whether putting the industry in charge of researching itself is perhaps a way to appease concerns amongst U.S. taxpayers is certainly a matter for discussion.

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Research and development

While the likes of Chrysler, Ford and General Motors will take the lead role with regards to funding, management, and solicitation of services for the project, it will incorporate battery companies, component manufacturers, universities and national laboratories. The idea is to bring all of the expertise and skills associated with the U.S. car industry, battery industry and research and development groups to look in greater depth at new ideas in the battery technology sector.

There are a number of ongoing developments within the battery technology industry which include lithium air batteries that many see as a potential lead technology in the short to medium term. However, there are also a number of other technologies which are currently under development that could eventually supersede lithium air batteries in the long term.

Is this a critical moment for the electric vehicle market?

While it would be dangerous to prompt this as a potentially groundbreaking moment for the electric vehicle market, as many have called similar moments in the past, there is no doubt that battery technology is a major issue today. The U.S. government has finally turned significant funding towards the battery technology market and this will not only benefit electric vehicles in the long term but also an array of other sectors connected to battery power.

We can only hope that the likes of Chrysler, Ford and General Motors this time have the appetite push the electric vehicle market forward, unlike the EV1 debacle back in the 1990s which effectively killed the industry for a decade. Time will tell but this time seems different and there seems to be more funding available from many governments and many companies around the world.