In years to come, we may look back on 2009 as the year that electric vehicles became mainstream–at least as far as the media is concerned. The past few weeks have been no different as a number of organizations from all over the automotive industry made EV-related announcements. One of these organizations, the Cleantech Group, seems to be bucking the trend with its prediction that so-called Smart Mobility will overtake EVs in 2010, although AutoBlogGreen’s Sebastian Blanco disagrees, and argues that, as far as the media is concerned, 2010 will be even bigger for EV news.
Fueling the Imagination
For example, just hearing the words “X-Prize” is bound to conjure up images of maverick entrepreneurs competing for millions of dollars of prize money to achieve new milestones in air and space flight. That’s exactly what the founders of the X-Prize Foundation want you to think about when you hear about the Progressive Automotive X-Prize, a new competition which focuses on environmentally-friendly automobiles instead of airplanes and rockets. As we reported in a previous article, the competition awards a $10 million dollar prize to the car that, in addition to being the winner in a series of speed and endurance trials, must achieve an effective 100 miles per gallon, have a 200 mile range, and adhere to a large number of very stringent design and safety criteria.
According to the New York Times, the new X-Prize is receiving a boost from the Federal government in the form of $5.5 million of stimulus money from the Department of Energy. This support of competition seems like a good way to promote fairness and innovation, especially since the DOE has been previously accused of stifling innovation in the automotive sector with its Advanced Technology Manufacturing Loan program.
Lithium-Ion Batteries Experiencing Electrifying Growth
Pike Research has released a report which forecasts that the Lithium-Ion battery industry will grow to $8 billion by 2015, fueled by the launch of “dozens of new plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles.” The report states that Lithium-Ion will continue to be the battery technology of choice for some time to come, with China, Japan and Korea being the major players. The report cites the high cost of these batteries as the main limiting factor to their acceptance, adding “30 to 50 percent” to the cost of a new vehicle, and likely requiring heavy government subsidies.
Most EV manufacturers currently use Lithium-Ion batteries in their designs, including Fisker Automotive. Although the company recently pushed back the launch of its Karma vehicle to 2010, it will announce a deal with a battery manufacturer later this month, Ener1 being the likely recipient. Seems like others are banking on Ener1 as well, as the company received an investment of $20 million in new capital from its strategic partner, ITOCHU Corporation.
Investors are sure to be looking more closely at the EV and battery industries now that Warren Buffet has publicly stated that ALL cars will be electric by 2030. The Wizard of Omaha holds a 10-percent stake in BYD, which manufactures Li-Ion batteries in China. Google is supporting this as well, with its Clean Energy 2030 initiative, although its detractors envision a multi-fuel future.
Have you heard about any interesting news about electric vehicles? Let us know in the comments.
Walking the Floor at the 2009 LA Auto Show (TriplePundit.com)
Where’s My Test Drive? (TriplePundit.com)
GM Invests $336M In Detroit-Hamtramck Plant To Build Chevrolet Volt (Green Car Congress)
Steve Puma is a sustainability and technology consultant. He currently writes for 3p as well as on his personal blog, ThePumaBlog, about the intersection of sustainability, technology, innovation, and the future. Steve holds an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School and a BA in Computer Science from Rutgers University. You can contact Steve through email or LinkedIn, or follow him on twitter.