From our perspective, it appears that we've reached a tipping point with regards to interest in the electric / hybrid automobile. No wonder considering the environmental and national security risks presented by a continuation of an oil-only approach. Unfortunately for the troubled US automotive industry (and economy), the single biggest money generator from a global fleet of electronic vehicles -- the lithium-ion battery cell -- is likely to be manufactured in Asia along side the lithium ion batteries found in our consumer electronics. According to the Wall Street Journal, "More than four dozen advanced battery factories are being built in China but none, currently, in the U.S." That could change, however, with a little determination, private investment, and a government willing to clear the way for manufacturing of this highly toxic contributor to the US infrastructure. Already, we've seen that Intel is being coaxed into building electric car batteries. Now, a group of 14 firms (including 3M and Johnson Controls-Saft) have stepped up to form an alliance with a US government laboratory. The National Alliance for Advanced Transportation Battery Cell Manufacture is modeled after SEMATECH, a public-private venture from the 80s that helped restore US prominence in computer semiconductor technology. The goal is to create a shared-cost, "open foundry" for members to perfect and ultimately produce automotive batteries. Problem is, they need upwards of $2 billion to build a plant to manufacture batteries that no one has ordered. Of course, that's a pittance when compared to the bailout requests made by the Big 3. Hmm, jobs and an industry dominating money machine... hey Obama, you listening?
[Via Ars Technica]