In a recent post I talked about the steps that governments were taking to improve the affordability of, and access to, plug-in hybrids and electric cars. This week there was more action on this front.
On Wednesday, the Ontario government announced that it was making an investment of up to $16.7 million in the Ontario-based battery manufacturer Electrovaya Inc. Electrovaya, which has previously won accolades for its tablet PCs and external laptop batteries, is using its expertise in this area to develop smaller batteries with increased energy density that are needed to power hybrid and electric vehicles.
Also on Wednesday, the U.S. government awarded $600 million in grants to companies working with Ford, Chrysler and General Motors to assist in the development of batteries for hybrid and electric vehicles, among the companies receiving grants were Navistar, Johnson Controls Inc. Currently, almost all battery manufacturing for advanced technology vehicles in done in Asia, including the battery for the Chevrolet Volt which is produced in South Korea and which is the most expensive and important component of the vehicle. President Obama noted, “I don’t want to just reduce our dependence on foreign oil and then end up being dependent on their foreign innovations. I don’t want to have to import a hybrid car. I want to be able to build a hybrid car here.”
Why is this important? Firstly, city planners and real estate developers are going to have to plan for the increased use of hybrid and electric vehicles by providing charging outlets. Secondly, although these new vehicles are not going to be using gasoline, they are going to need electricity to charge their batteries and this electricity will have to come from somewhere, be it from hydro, wind, solar or geothermal sources. All of this is of course great news for companies in the renewable energy sector.