Then it will take hold. Right now, it’s not going to take hold by having five or six cars here and there, or a military base that has a golf cart running around. We appreciate these little pockets of the DOE doing something over here and the DOD doing something over there. But we need a massive, consolidated effort.”
Dr. Good said the upcoming Washington meeting on batteries should include people who can speak to “pull-through” and whether or not there is an appetite for getting people to talk about procuring such vehicles. “In many ways, that seems to be the secret of success,” she said.
Nothing advances a technology faster than on-the-road experience, Mr. Krause said. “That is why it is so critical to get deployment,” he said. Deployment also will help development of manufacturing and the supply chain, and provide knowledge useful to advance everything from basic materials research to grid technology. “But let’s stop talking about this stuff and let’s get those vehicles, knowing that the first generation isn’t going to be without some difficulty,” he said.
A member of the audience asked about the influence of fuel prices. “In the industry, we were all amazed to see the kinds of shifts in behaviors that took place just a couple of years ago when fuel prices went high,” he said. “We saw people who were absolutely diehard SUV drivers suddenly downsize and were happy about it.” Even though fuel prices are not the complete story, “that lever, that ability to regulate what is happening with fuel prices is a really critical part of this puzzle,” he said. “Without that you aren’t going to get the demand and we don’t have a battery industry. I think it deserves a lot of focus.”
Dr. Wessner concluded the conference by thanking representatives from the state of Michigan and leading universities for taking part. “You have provided us with a remarkable range of information and insights, which will be extremely helpful,” he said. An important role of the National Academies is to convey such information to Congress and the DoE. “When people say U.S. government, states, and the university community cannot cooperate, they clearly have not been in this room. I congratulate you for that.”
Dr. Wessner thanked the MEDC and Gary Krause in particular for their help in organizing the conference and lining up speakers.