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Car Battery Startups Fizzle After Heavy US Funding

Discussion in 'Prius, Hybrid, EV and Alt-Fuel News' started by usnavystgc, Jun 1, 2012.

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  1. usnavystgc

    usnavystgc Die Hard DIYer

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    Here's what happens when the goverment gets involved trying to force demand for what "they" think is right. More evidence for my argument for government to keep their hands out of what the private sector and consumer demand should be driving. I'll bet a lot of people got rich off of this. I can see the execs of these companies in the boardroom now saying things like "I will give myself a 7 figure salary out of this grant" Your taxpayer dollars at work!!!!!

    Car battery starups fizzle after heavy U.S. funding | Fox News

    Some quick excerpts for you:

    "Since 2009, the Obama administration has awarded more than $1 billion to American companies to make advanced batteries for electric vehicles. Halfway to a six-year goal of producing one million electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, automakers are barely at 50,000 cars."

    "What happened? The US provided grants that tied the battery makers to aggressive timetables, requiring each to achieve production and staffing targets that would supply tens of thousands of vehicles a year. But those production timetables weren't linked to market demand, leading to a shakeout among suppliers."

    I don't understand how these grants were given without any thought given to market demand. What an absolute shame and another waste.
  2. seilerts

    seilerts Battery Curmudgeon

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    Government is not good at making economic decisions. They only know that R&D expenditures in sum have made the US into the world's only superpower. Officials use that fact to justify dispensing pork. The argument is frequently made that advanced battery technology is a matter of national defense. That may be more clear after we emerge from this Great Recession and demand for the most efficient automobiles increases.

    Here's a good overview on the topic of R&D:

    Research and Development, by David M. Levy: The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics | Library of Economics and Liberty
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  3. hill

    hill High Fiber Member

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    Gee ... how surprising ... the entire world economy in the crapper ... fewer and fewer folks with cash to buy much of ANYTHING ... dollar deflation gets worse and worse ... national debts spiraling ever upward ... and this genius of an author thinks (s)he's onto something profound. Hmmmm ... I wonder what it all means . . . .
    o_O

    .
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  4. Phausto

    Phausto Junior Member

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    Study: Fox News Viewers Less Informed Than Those Who Watch No News At All

    Just sayin'. These studies seem to come out yearly, but for me are regularly reinforced by a small sample size of in-laws.

    As to their figures, e.g.
    "Since 2009, the Obama administration has awarded more than $1 billion to American companies to make advanced batteries for electric vehicles. Halfway to a six-year goal of producing one million electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, automakers are barely at 50,000 cars."
    a thinking person might want to rewind back to, say, half way between now and the first cell phone. Were there half as many? Were they half as good? (Mary Meeker's much-reviewed D10 presentation on 5/30 has a nice graphic on p 29.) It's as if they've never heard of things such as Moore's Law and its many corollaries. My advice to anyone considering an EV is "wait if you can". We've passed peak oil, certainly at least on a per capita basis, so there must & will be a new way forward.

  5. frankbiele

    frankbiele Junior Member

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    While it is your RIGHT to regurgitate FOX "so called" right wing nutjob news on Prius chat I REALLY wish you would pick your article summary facts more carefully. The end of the article (not that I trust anything from Fox) even notes:
    "The Department of Energy, which oversees the administration's advanced battery grants, says it is too early to judge the effort, and believes it will bear fruit when electric cars become a regular sight on American highways."

    This is the same talking point that we hear every day from the right:" Government get your hands out of private business". So while Europe is in the toilet we are doing quite well, all due to GOVERNMENT stimulus. In addition, government incentives for consumers to buy cars, like the Prius Plug-In, Volt, Tesla, etc. provide more VOLUME for battery manufactures and will, therefore, drive the price of Li-Ion batteries to the point of being affordable for everyone.

    What Fox will NEVER tell you is that the real problem with the economy is trade policy. Since BIG BUSINESS essentially runs and operates FOX, and the other major news sources in this country you will NEVER hear that in a public forum. Tariffs are essential for businesses/products we wish to remain in the US (case in point is the latest tariff (30%) the US imposed on Chinese solar panels/cells (among other things). This makes even MORE sense considering the fact that government incentives to purchase these solar panels do not have a buy American clause attached to them.

    U.S. imposes tariffs on Chinese solar panels - The Washington Post
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  6. The Electric Me

    The Electric Me Go Speed Go!

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    People LOVE to get indignant about "Their Tax Dollars At Work", when they perceive a Government Grant or Funding has been ill used.
    I'm not saying improvements shouldn't be implemented in execution and evaluation of how government spending gets applied. But I think the mud slinging goes both ways.
    With all the money and resources our government applies to area's I TOTALLY disagree with...I'm not going to fault support of trying to advance battery technology.
    The idea of government funding is simultaneously trying to "force demand" I find to be flawed thinking.
    If only immediate financial return was the only criteria applied to funding government projects, many of this countries greatest historical successes would of never manifested.
  7. Munpot42

    Munpot42 Active Member

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    You quoted Fox news as if it really was news..........it ain't, it's called propaganda.
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  8. FL_Prius_Driver

    FL_Prius_Driver Senior Member

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    From a political standpoint, the exact same criticism should be applied to the Bush administration for pouring money into Fuel Cell Cars. Nothing came of that waste either.

    That said, your point is valid as long as taken as a basic government failing, not a specific party failing. The basic failing is the government has resorted to funding favored technologies, rather than funding basic R&D. The better answer would be to use the National Science Foundation or similar organization that decides what is to be funded on pure merit considerations by independent evaluators. (i.e. return to what is working).
  9. ItsNotAboutTheMoney

    ItsNotAboutTheMoney EditProfOptInfoCustomUser Title

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    Yes, "force demand" is entirely the wrong phrase. The demand is there. The problem is building plug-in electric cars at a reasonable price. The funding is, essentially, to encourage companies to invest in electrification of transportation in order to bring it to market. Let's face it, the $400+/kWh subsidy would make no sense if there were no expectation of improvements in battery technology.

    So, there was misjudgment of the market, the economy, oil prices, manufacturers (who may be pocketing the tax credit instead of using it to lower prices) and of course, they couldn't predict the Japanese earthquake and the rise of the Yen which, I'm sure, is a significant drag on pricing both of the PiP and LEAF.

    But It's not like the status quo is satisfactory: dependency on petroleum for transportation is absolute crippling since it causes the country to hemorrhage money and acts as a stopper on economic growth. Considering the already-demonstrated benefits of electrification and potential benefits of improved battery technology it wasn't exactly throwing money down the drain.



    Like the Internet, the world's greatest invention. (Apart from everything else that enabled the Internet to be created and used).
  10. caffeinekid

    caffeinekid Duct Tape Extraordinaire

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    I know others have addressed this one way or another, but you REALLY ought to turn off the idiot box and actually research the way this works. In other words, the global hierarchy goes something like this:

    Banking - first and foremost in all things great and small. Google "Federal Reserve Cartel" and "the history of banking"
    Industry - Refer to the members of the Federal Reserve Cartel. Ford, GE, General Motors, Microsoft, so-called "big oil", grain cartels (ethanol anyone?), et all.
    NGOs- including tax exempt foundations (and again back to the Federal Reserve Cartel)
    Governments- wholly subsidiaries of the banks and industrial interests, except of course for those "evil regimes" that the banking interests tend to attack outright when the CIA's tactics don't get the job done. "We the people" is a myth.

    All of this propaganda, political partisan rhetoric and code speak of defending "the market" or "free market" (which has never even existed in this country) seldom, if ever, leads to any changes that go against the interests and intentions of the cartels. At this point in time, subsidizing EVs and other green energies with digits on a balance sheet serves the interests of the likes of GE, Ford, GM, Microsoft and many others.
  11. SageBrush

    SageBrush Senior Member

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    Remind me again what the cost of the Iraq war will be when all is said and done ?
  12. usnavystgc

    usnavystgc Die Hard DIYer

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    Wow!!!, I guess I struck a nerve for some.

    I think I'd rather keep my tax dollars than let others take it and decide what to do with it. I'm pretty sure I can manage the money better than a politician.
  13. n0na

    n0na Junior Member

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    I come to this website to learn more about my Prius. I don't come here to read personal political screeds. Please keep your political views to yourself and stick to the facts. Thank you.



  14. caffeinekid

    caffeinekid Duct Tape Extraordinaire

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    The "our tax dollars" arguments are red herrings. And the reason for this was/is not little green cars. Nor are hybrid/EV drivers somehow part of the problem.
  15. Rebound

    Rebound Senior Member

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    China and other countries subsidize advanced R&D, and if America doesn't we will fall farther behind. We've got to drop the mentality that DoD spending is the only way to do this.
  16. FL_Prius_Driver

    FL_Prius_Driver Senior Member

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    There are two separate issues interwound in most posts in this thread.

    ISSUE 1: What is government's responsibility for supporting R&D?

    ISSUE 2: How can the government's money be most effectively spent on R&D?

    The opening poster seemed more focused on the second issue. Money wasted on good causes is still money wasted. I really did not see any clear objections to Issue 1. It's definitely in everyone's interest to find sustainable energy and transportation solutions. It's just that more and more of the government spending on R&D is done with political objectives instead of technical objectives.....a sure formula for wasting money.
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  17. walter Lee

    walter Lee Hypermiling Padawan

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    The federal/state government can't direct civilian/consumer demand - but it can support an existing industry it (e.g. G.I. Bill, medicare/mediaid, Federal Highway Program, sugar subsidies, oil/gas production tax credit, etc. ). The only time the government can create an industry is when the government becomes the main consumer in that market (e.g. the government.. declares war and becomes the main consumer of the defense industry, sets up a space travel-exploration program and is the main consumer of the space industry, build a large regional hydro-electric dam and is the main consumer of hydroelectric turbines. The best way for the gvernment to spur BEV battery technology - is for the government to insure a steady market for BEV batteries. This would be similar to price support for the milk/sugar/corn industry.
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  18. SageBrush

    SageBrush Senior Member

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    Support for a specific market usually means successful lobbying, not smart decision making. Steven Chu at the EPA is an anomaly. We will be back to political hacks running the EPA way too soon.

    I support basic research at universities of the kind private industry will not undertake themselves; and *policy* directives e.g. pollution penalties to cover cost externalities. It is a bad idea to allow government to try and pick technology 'winners,' and in a similar vein subsidies of all kinds are a rotten idea.

    All that said, the diatribe posted by the OP is just a veiled attempt at anti-Obama politics since it ignores the elephants in the room.
  19. austingreen

    austingreen Senior Member

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    Here is a link to the original story, which seemed to get cut off in the fox version. Additional information is at the end. This is business news, and the main criticism is the strings attached to spend the money more quickly than the battery companies would have done naturally. The current level of demand should have been anticipated in 2009. This is quite a different case from solyndra, but is a case of some government waste.
    Short-Circuit in Electric Car Plans - WSJ.com





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  20. Rebound

    Rebound Senior Member

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    I don't take a lot of stock in what Rupert Murdoch's newspapers say about Obama programs. Let's look at the facts:

    1) In 2011, FINALLY, plug-in electric vehicles came to the market. Not fancy golf carts, but genuinely usable, practical cars. And it's a fact that Obama programs played a big role in making that happen.

    2) In 2011, FINALLY, we began to see significant deployments of public charging stations, and they're interoperable with many brands of cars. And it was again Obama's stimulus which made this so.

    These are FACTS. The right wing wants to smear President Obama, but I own a plug-in car, it's reliable, I have charged it at six different public locations in California, and this would not have been so without stimulus spending. Some of this spending will work out, and some won't, but America at long last has viable plug-in vehicles because of this President and we would not have this if John McCain were President. The charging stations wouldn't have been built, the Leaf factory wouldn't have been subsidized, Tesla wouldn't have been subsidized, and A123 wouldn't be. We have a good President and he's doing the right things for our nation.
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