To follow up on my earlier posting on cars and battery technology, I would draw your attention to a story Strategy + Business is running on The Future is Lithium. The story reiterates a now standard theme: battery technology has moved to lithium and “Companies in Europe, Japan, South Korea, and China have clear leads in perfecting the battery.” Much of the piece describes the rivalry between GM and Toyota in developing the use of this technology in autos. They point out that GM may be key to developing the industry:
Of course, any U.S. hopes for securing a chunk of the lithium ion industry would be dashed if GM’s Volt project were to fizzle out because of the automaker’s financial problems. The work on the Volt is by far the most advanced lithium ion-based auto program of any U.S.-based manufacturer. “Because of GM’s efforts, the U.S. has a real opportunity,” says Patil. “The Volt is an opportunity to take leadership.”
I’m not sure that Volt is the key for the US electric vehicle industry. I think the trajectory is become clear. There are a number of other ways that the technology could move forward, including the battery consortium I’ve described before.
I do agree with the story’s concluding remark, however:
But even if the Americans don’t make the train, a future with more and more powerful lithium ion batteries is inevitable; after all, the rest of the world is already on board.
And the rest of the world is not only on board but possibly pulling ahead.