The Obama administration has backed off its goal of putting 1 million electric vehicles (EVs) on the road by 2015, Reuters reported late last month. Yet the federal government has still committed to $7.5 billion in funding for policies that promote electric vehicles, including $2.4 billion in grants to lithium-ion battery makers.
A Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) team working alongside the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory recently received a five-year, $3.7-million grant from the US Department of Energy. The laboratories' research is focused on improving the performance, lifetime cycle and safety of lithium-ion batteries. “In transportation in particular, a significant advance in battery performance and lifetime will allow the transition from current gasoline- and diesel-based vehicles to plug-in hybrids and all-electrics with comparable or better power, range and cost,” states the LLNL website. “This, in turn, would greatly reduce the nation's dependence on fossil fuels and carbon emissions associated with them. An advance in safety will have significant implications for aviation as well, as the grounding of Boeing 787s worldwide due to Li-ion battery fires has made all too clear.” While North American markets produce the highest amount of revenue from consumer and industrial market-based lithium battery sales, China dominates the automotive sector, according to American research firm Frost & Sullivan. If the US wishes to compete with China in the EV market, it has some serious catching up to do: North America is expected to account for roughly 21 percent of automotive industry demand for lithium batteries in 2016 compared to 40 percent for China, as per Frost & Sullivan. Lithium batteries to benefit from significant global growth in global EV market The EV industry has received a lot of unwarranted flak over the years, and the recent string of hiccups plaguing the lithium battery market hasn't helped. Nor do reports like KPMG's 2013 Global Automotive Executive Survey, which shows that nine out of 10 auto industry execs believe that fuel efficiency, not environmental friendliness, will continue to be a top priority for car buyers, at least over the next few years.