While companies will receive federal funding, most will have to match the grant with their own spending, dime for dime.
Saqib Rahim and Jessica Leber - NYTIMES
- August 6, 2009
Will it work or will Japan remain dominant in this area? --Ed.
A $2.4 billion grant program has renewed hope that a U.S. industry in electric cars and the batteries to propel them won't be hopelessly stuck behind foreign competitors.
(pdf), whose recipients were announced yesterday, were billed as the largest auto-battery investment ever. The funds will be split among 48 projects throughout the supply chain, from developing batteries to building manufacturing plants to demonstrating actual vehicles.
Observers hailed the grants as a "down payment" for an industry that, in truth, isn't too far behind its overseas rivals and that could make a profound reduction in U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.
"We're at the beginning of a very large opportunity," said Brian Wynne, president of the Electric Drive Transportation Association. "There's a choke point here. The choke point is the availability of automotive-grade batteries. That choke point is worldwide. That's not a U.S. phenomenon."
Currently, the U.S. industry sources many of its parts from abroad. Energy Secretary Steven Chu, announcing one grant in North Carolina, said Japan produces 99 percent of the batteries for the hybrid cars on U.S. roads.
American automakers want more domestic production of these batteries, since that would allow them to cut costs. But battery makers have said they can't scale up production without a solid supply chain -- building not just... [Read More]