A consortium of 14 U.S. technology companies is seeking $1 billion in federal aid to build a factory to manufacture advanced electric car batteries, according to a report Wednesday night by The Wall Street Journal.
Aiming to catch up to Asian battery producers that already dominate the market, the National Alliance for Advanced Transportation Battery Cell Manufacture is described as the most ambitious effort to date to meet automakers' increasing demand for lithium-ion batteries. The report noted that U.S. automakers such as GM and Ford plan to roll out plug-in electric cars by 2010, but that the U.S. lacks sufficient facilities to produce the lithium-ion batteries those cars require.
Batteries are the most expensive component in plug-in electric vehicles, a market being pursued by a few U.S. companies. But battery makers and analysts say that U.S. manufacturers lack the financial means to meet the anticipated demand of electric cars.
Last week, former Intel CEO Andy Grove joined other Silicon Valley elites in advocating for an industry shift into energy technology. Grove told the Journal that he is urging Intel to invest in battery manufacturing as a way to diversify from its core chip business.
Grove said Intel's "strategic objective is tackling big problems and turning them into big businesses." He said Intel, with its cash resources, can invest in battery technology and manufacturing to bring down the cost of car batteries, which would drive adoption of plug-in electric cars.