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Ideas to Help Get the US in the Battery Technology Game

I saw my first Tesla at the Concours d’Elegance in Pebble Beach.  Since then, I’ve noted progress of this US company and will celebrate the day when domestically made electric vehicles (EVs) are affordable for more drivers. I’d love to see Tesla become a US-based battery leader too.

For those who think of the Tesla Roadster as a sexy car, a battery probably doesn’t add to its sexiness, or to the visual appeal of the less costly though attractive Model S.  But if “energy is everything” when it comes to sex appeal, it’s certainly true with EVs and the likelihood of their imminent widespread use.

Andy Grove, co-founder and former CEO of Intel, suggested in the 4/27/09 issue of Fortune some answers to the battery challenge. As Grove notes—and in contrast to the sharp focus of Wang Chuan-Fu, CEO of China’s BYD electric car company (see “Buffett Takes Charge,” also in 4/27 Fortune)—the US is presently not even playing in the battery technology game.

Grove thinks a temporary government-owned foundry organization would help get US battery production off the ground, similar to government help in the early days of the microprocessor. He also wants wants US Energy Secretary Steven Chu to set up an industry council “and run it as if we were under wartime pressure.”

If Energy Secretary Chu listens to Bill McKibben and others, indeed we are.

This post was published on 25 May 2009. One or more changes last made to this post on 11 June 2017.

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