Magazine article USA TODAY

Emergence of Electric Cars Seems Inevitable

Magazine article USA TODAY

Emergence of Electric Cars Seems Inevitable

Article excerpt

By 2020, more than half of new vehicle sales are expected to be hybrid-electric, plug-in hybrid, and all-electric models. In the global race to develop and produce advanced lithium-ion batteries for these vehicles, the U.S. is well-positioned to be a worldwide leader, a study by Duke University, Durham, N.C., finds.

When hybrids first appeared, Japan beat the U.S. by about 10 years with its Toyota Prius, notes the report by researchers at the Center on Globalization, Governance & Competitiveness, but while the Prius runs on a nickel mew hydride battery, the next generation of hybrid and electric cars overwhelmingly will use lithium-ion batteries, which have yet to be fully developed, commercialized, and mass-produced for uses in vehicles.

Marcy Lowe, lead author of the report, notes that nearly all lithium-ion batteries for cell phones and laptops today are made in Asia, even though a University of Texas professor helped develop the technology in the 1980s. "However, advancing the battery technology so it can power vehicles opens a whole new window of opportunity and, this time around, the U.S. has learned to be quicker and more strategic."

The report indicates that, thanks largely to stimulus funds, the U.S. supply chain has 119 sites spread out across 27 states that could play relevant roles in the production of advanced car batteries. "According to announced capacity expansions, the U.S. will have a 40% share of global capacity to produce lithium-ion batteries for vehicles by 2015," the report states. …

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