security, and to the national economy as well. You are going to be making a huge difference in people’s lives.” Besides being interesting from a technical and marketing perspective, he said, the effort “is important to people who don’t know an advanced lithium-ion battery from an Energizer bunny battery.”

One reason to believe advanced batteries will “become a major industry” and usher in “major change in the way we move our people” is that President Obama, his Administration, and a majority of Congress “understand the transformative power of electric vehicles,” Senator Levin said. “We also understand that we cannot unleash that power unless government partners with industry to make that happen.”

Attitudes toward collaboration between government and industry have shifted dramatically in Washington, Senator Levin said. “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. “That was not too long ago. That was a fact of political life.”

Today, policymakers “understand that American companies are not only competing against foreign companies,” Senator Levin said. “They are competing with countries and governments who support their domestic industries. We learned that. It took us too long. It put us at a competitive disadvantage to learn about the realistic necessity of that partnership.” 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.”

Government and industry are “off to a great start,” Senator Levin said. This is illustrated by the government’s decision to invest more than $2 billion in advanced battery and related technologies, as well as in other areas to promote electric vehicles. “We need to make mass-market electric vehicles a reality, and that means a lot more than $2 billion for batteries,” he said. “It also has meant a $5 billion investment aimed at electrifying—literally and metaphorically—the American transportation sector.” The federal money is being combined with private investment, much of it by companies represented at the symposium in Livonia, he noted. “Factories are going up. Batteries are beginning to roll off assembly lines,” Senator Levin said. “But that is just the beginning. Congress knows we have just begun this effort. The White House knows the same thing. That is true for research and development facilities and true for factories.”

The next crucial step “is to figure out how to make electric vehicles affordable and sustainable in a country that has spent more than a century shackled to oil,” Senator Levin said. “There is much left to do.” Indeed, he said, now that the industry has turned the corner toward electric vehicles, “more challenges lay ahead of us than behind.” He listed a number of major questions that must be answered:

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