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Originally published November 8 2010

US government investing billions in battery technology for electric vehicles

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) The Obama administration has invested $2.4 billion in the advanced battery industry, in an attempt to make the United States the world's foremost supplier of batteries for electric cars.

"The workers at this plant, already slated to produce batteries for the new Chevy Volt, learned the other day that they're also going to be supplying batteries for the new electric Ford Focus," Obama said during a visit to the Compact Power battery factory in Holland, Mich., in July. " So when you buy one of these vehicles, the battery could be stamped 'Made in America' -- just like the car."

Analysts interpret the government's support for the industry as an attempt to revive the U.S. auto industry.

"The Obama administration is making a concerted effort to prevent the failure of the U.S. auto industry, and that will bolster development of the US battery industry through 2012," said John Gartner of Pike Research.

There are now 30 electric-vehicle battery and component factories under construction in the United States, 26 of them built with federal funding. Nine of these are lithium-ion battery manufacturing plants, and four of these plan to be in production by the end of this year.

Currently, lithium-ion battery production is dominated by China, India, Japan and Korea, which make the batteries for personal appliances. The first country to seize the market on the new advanced version of the batteries for electric cars will have a major advantage -- and China has a head start, with the world's largest market for the vehicles.

"[A]dvanced local designs are on the drawing board [in China], such as the Aspire electric car and the Spring Light 3, a fuel-cell hybrid with a five-thousand-dollar target price," wrote Alex Steffen in his 2006 book Worldchanging.

"Are we playing catch-up with Asian nations in this battery race? Yes, we are," said Ann Marie Sastry, CEO of the battery startup Sakti3. "Sure, someone can always say it's stupid to pour billions into batteries when all these other countries are ahead of us. But it's also the price we have to pay to even get into the game."

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