January 7, 2009

The race for car lithium battery is on

While car manufacturers worldwide are planning their green makeovers (shifting production to more sustainable cars), battery producers and developers are racing to get investment loans from both private and public funding to answer the expected surge in demand for lithium ion batteries.

Experts contend that battery production problems could limit the growth of the electric car industry with lithium ion batteries currently expensive and supply still limited. According to this Dec. 15 Wall Street Journal article (thanks to Rockwood Holdings for supplying some of the articles!), current lithium ion batteries cost about $1,000 per kilowatt hour of capacity, adding $4,000 to $16,000 to the cost of a plug-in car capable of using both gasoline and electricity. The article says the car industry will need 10x-100x the manufacturing capacity that laptops need for electric cars to become a reality.

Several firms have already recently announced joint ventures and investments in lithium ion battery production. In Germany, chemical company Evonik and Daimler establish strategic alliance for the development and production of lithium-ion batteries. Battery-manufacturer Johnson Controls Inc., Milwaukee, is partnering with French-based Saft Groupe SA to build a lithium ion battery plant in France.

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