The Auto Industry Bets Its Future on Batteries – The New York Times:
Long considered one of the least interesting car components, batteries may now be one of the most exciting parts of the auto industry. Car manufacturing hasn’t fundamentally changed in 50 years and is barely profitable, but the battery industry is still ripe for innovation.
Several battery factories are in the planning or construction phase in the United States, including a factory G.M. is building in Ohio with LG, but analysts said federal incentives for electric car and battery production would be crucial to creating a thriving industry in the United States.
all of the money pouring into battery technology is good news. It puts capitalism to work on solving a global problem. But this reordering of the auto industry will also claim some victims, like the companies that build parts for internal combustion engine cars and trucks, or automakers and investors that bet on the wrong technology.
The first priority for the industry is to make batteries cheaper. Batteries for a midsize electric car cost about $15,000, or roughly double the price they need to be for electric cars to achieve mass acceptance, Mr. Srinivasan said.
Longer term, the industry holy grail is solid state batteries, which will replace the liquid lithium solution at the core of most batteries with solid layers of a lithium compound. Solid state batteries would be more stable and less prone to overheating, allowing faster charging. They would also weigh less.
Elon Musk, Tesla’s chief executive, said on a recent conference call with analysts. “Prototypes are easy. Scaling production is very hard.”