the U.S. has the supply base and skilled workforce to sustain a globally competitive industry. These issues present important inter-related questions about the need to stimulate consumer demand, the prioritization of research funding to advance battery technologies, and the need for complementary infrastructure to support the electrification of transportation in the United States.


To better understand the progress, challenges, and opportunities facing America’s advanced battery industry for electric-drive vehicles, the National Academies’ Board on Science, Technology, and Economic Policy (STEP) convened a symposium in Livonia, Michigan, on July 26 and 27, 2010. Organized in cooperation with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and the Department of Energy, the conference drew leading authorities from government, industry, the U.S. military, academia, and research institutes.

Box A
Competitiveness and Government-Industry Collaboration

In his keynote address, U.S. Senator Carl Levin of Michigan noted that attitudes toward collaboration between government and industry have shifted dramatically in Washington. “A few years ago, anyone who suggested that government work closely with industry was accused of supporting an ‘industrial policy.’ If that industrial policy label stuck to anything, it was a kiss of death,” he recalled.

Now, Senator Levin said, policymakers understand U.S. companies are at a competitive disadvantage because they are competing not just with other companies, but also with other governments that support their domestic industries. These days, “the question no longer is about whether government should be teaming up with industry,” he said. “The question is about what we need to do, how we do it, and with what timeline.”

Senator Levin predicted the electric-vehicle industry would burgeon and “be important to our country, to our national security, and to the national economy.” Nevertheless, he acknowledged that “more challenges lay ahead of us than behind.” To see this vision through, government and industry must resolve the challenges. “Tell us what you need to get us there,” he said, “and I can commit to you that most of my colleagues and I in the Congress will do everything we can to give you the tools and support you need.”


workforce that A123 developed, and to incorporate A123 technology into their product lines.

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