Thursday, September 13, 2012

U.S. electric car market set for future growth

United States is currently far behind China in clean energy race, especially when it comes to manufacturing renewable energy technologies. Chinese have recently managed to become the world's largest manufacturers of not only wind turbines but also solar panels, and are looking to even further expand their lead in production of different renewable energy technologies. The two main reasons why China leads in global clean energy race are cheap workforce, and its dominant position in production of rare earth materials, many of which are used in renewable energy manufacturing processes (especially for solar panel production).

United States starts from behind in clean energy race, meaning that it has a lot of catching up to do. Catching up is always difficult but by no means impossible. The first thing United States should do is to come up with the national energy plan, and use a multidimensional approach to this issue, meaning that U.S. government has to try several different options to see which one will give the best results. One of these options is no doubt production of electric vehicle batteries.

Electric vehicles still seem to some people like some Sci-Fi stuff from movies but this is in fact a real-time thing. In fact, many energy experts expect that electric vehicles market will soon experience large growth, with many car manufacturers going in this direction, so we are really talking here about an excellent economic opportunity.
A row of hybrid electric vehicle battery cells. Photo courtesy of Argonne National Laboratory.
Having this in mind it is good to know that Obama is pushing for production of electric vehicles, and electric vehicles batteries. He already said that at the tour of the site in a Michigan battery plant.

According to the US Department of Energy production of electric vehicle batteries is the key component that could significantly bring down the overall costs of electric vehicles production.

Large production of electric vehicle batteries would bring benefits on both domestic as well as international level, in form of new high-tech jobs, and much improved competitiveness on global level, giving excellent export opportunities.

More than $2 billion dollars have already been invested to establish a high-end battery manufacturing unit that would act as a base for high-tech battery in the US market, and Obama has even asked the automakers to produce over one million plug-in hybrids or electric vehicles by 2015.

Given this large investment energy analysts expect that the cost of an electric battery pack for a vehicle with a 100-mile range could be reduced by half, at around $16,000 by 2013, and further declining to $10,000 by 2015. Some energy experts also predict that this will lead to the installation of 20,000 electric vehicle charging stations by 2012.

With little luck and lots of effort, in few years time, U.S. could even become top player on electric vehicles market. Of course, there is always a chance that the rapidly expanding automobile industry in China will leapfrog to electric vehicles market, meaning that U.S. really needs to make firm statement in this sector and act very swiftly.

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