In her introductory remarks at the symposium, Dr. Mary Good, of the National Academies STEP Board noted that the conference would inform the Department of Energy and other federal agencies, Congress, and states on the government-industry collaboration required to support the expansion of the market for electric-drive vehicles and “hasten the widespread use of advanced batteries.”
A. STRATEGIC IMPORTANCE OF ADVANCED BATTERY MANUFACTURING
Many nations regard the advanced-battery industry as strategic, both as a means of reducing energy use and as an important manufacturing industry. This is no less the case for the United States. Currently, the transportation sector accounts for two-thirds of U.S. petroleum consumption, and two-thirds of that is burned by the 240 million vehicles on U.S. roads.6 As core components in electricity-powered vehicles, advanced batteries are seen as an important tool to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and limit dependence on imported oil. As speakers at the symposium noted, leadership in the development and manufacture of advanced batteries in the United States is important for the future of the U.S. automobile industry. (See Box B) Despite major U.S. advances in battery research and technology, the United States does not at present lead in the manufacture of this strategic technology.
Advanced Batteries and the Future of the U.S. Auto Industry: Trading Oil Dependency for Battery Dependency?
Eric Shreffler of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation asserted at the symposium that battery cells and packs are the “the new power train” of future automobiles.7 Reliance on foreign battery technology and products could thus put the competitiveness of the U.S. auto industry at risk.
In her keynote remarks at the symposium, U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) said that the last thing the U.S. needs “is to go from a dependence on foreign oil to a dependence on foreign technology. Building the next generation of energy-efficient vehicles is do-or-die for all of the automakers, for the state of Michigan, and for America.”8
6 The remainder is used by air, rail, and marine and off-road transportation. U.S. Department of Energy data cited in presentation by Patrick Davis.
7 See the summary of the presentation by Eric Shreffler of the Michigan Economic Development Corp. in the next chapter.
8 See the summary of the presentation by U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow in the next chapter.