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DOE to Provide up to $14 Million to Develop Advanced Batteries for Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles

The US Department of Energy (DOE) will provide up to $14 million in funding for a $28 million cost-shared solicitation by the United States Advanced Battery Consortium (USABC) for plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) battery development. 

This research aims to find solutions to improving battery performance so vehicles can deliver up to 40 miles of electric range without recharging.  This would include most roundtrip daily commutes.

DOE and USABC seek to identify electrochemical storage technologies capable of meeting or approaching USABC’s criteria for performance, weight, life-cycle, and cost.  Other considerations include the potential to commercialize proposed battery technologies and bring them to market quickly.

In March, USABC issued Request for Proposals (RFPs) for ultracapacitor technology, high energy batteries, and high power batteries.

DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Vehicle Technologies Program is leading the Department’s efforts to bring PHEVs to market.  The development of a lower cost, high-energy battery has been identified as a critical pathway toward commercialization of PHEVs.

USABC is a consortium of the United States Council for Automotive Research (USCAR), the umbrella organization for collaborative research among DaimlerChrysler Corporation, Ford Motor Company and General Motors Corporation.  Supported by a cooperative agreement with the DOE, USABC’s mission is to develop electrochemical energy storage technologies that support commercialization of fuel cell, hybrid, and electric vehicles.


  • USABC PHEV Battery RFP

  • USABC Ultracapacitor RFP

  • USABC High Energy Battery RFP

  • USABC High Power Battery RFP


Stan Peterson

Government seldom if ever solves any problems. USABC has had an effect on the industry pushing some battery technologies forward, at the margins. The technological "tour de force" of the government funded "new generation" vehicles showed that a vehicle using HEV technology was possible even if totally impossible as a government design. Toyota rationalized these vehicles, eliminated the gold plating, cut costs by 20 times per vehicle, and offered the really primitive Prius for sale. Three generations of improvement later the Prius is approaching a viable vehicle comparable in cost to its ICE competitors, without subsidies.

But only non-engineering and politically motivated loons believe that its all a conspiracy that with the technology "ready a to go" that the manufacturers actually prefer losing money. They somehow believe, the manufacturers and are simply obstinate in refusing to introduce HEVs and PHEVs.

But such is the reality of a Lib politicos life. Having absolutely no answers to any real world problem, Everything is a Conspiracy. We deal in the real world not some watermelon's view of the perfectibility of it, that needs only the appropriate lash and command to enforce its proclamations that the tide not roll in.

The reality is we are close to having the technology for the elctrification of ground transport. Li-Ion chemistry has the weight, power density, and power capacity, that places it in the ballpark of the requirement. It would be better if the the chemistry characteristics were a half order of magnitude better, but such is reality.

You can laugh at suggestions that a lead-acid based technology would produce a viable ground transport product, and you'd be correct. Despite the inevitable Lib conspiricists and their "Who killed the EV1?" nonsense; that battery technology was a at least an of order of magnitude away from ever being a viable product.

Any engineer, businessman or possible buyer could see that.

GM pissed away a Billion dollars or more as the cost of meeting the whims of governmental appointed idiots at CARB. They were so used to having industry find a way to meet their wants by merely demanding that the goose lay golden eggs, and succeeding, that Hubris set in.

Without any basis that you can push the technology as far as you like, by merely demanding that it happen, the CARBite idiots demanded the impossible on a short schedule. For once industry and reality couldn't comply.

Industry has made breakthrough after breakthrough including GM's industry wide savior technology of the catalytic converter, to meet challenges even as it leaders said "We can't do this, today", No one paid attention to the "Give us more time" addendum. Conspiricists never listen. From an emissions standpoint you can almost breathe the tailpipe of a gasoline SULEV PZEV ICE. (its a little short of O2, as combustion is so complete)

Battery technology is the key technology to viable HEVs, PHEVs, and BEVs, but is still several years away. Its not pie in the sky but the battery technology is not yet here. Reliability, costs, manufacturability, effectivity in the cold, are still problems that need to be answered. Thermal stability needs to be refined, as does practical obtainable power versus theoretical power density needs to be improved.

OTOH, there are other ancillary technologies that are being addressed and solved. The primitive HEVs on sale now, are validating these technologies and refining them. Designs for electrically driven componentry for power assisted steering, braking, throttle control, AC, heating and coolant circulation are all necessary advances. Early designs are being validated and where necessary redesigned.

Infrastructure factories to produce these components and the batteries themselves are being built and expanded.

It is pretty certain that the HEV has reached viability the electrification of ground transport is almost certainly assured in the very short term of the next two decades.


Kent wrote: . I've read the specs, and none met them, including the Altair NanoSafes, that are
wildly overpriced, too heavy, and do not meet the lifespan requirements nor the power output reqs.

The nano-safe drives the Phoenix:

1) 95mph-all electric
2) 130 miles range-all electric
3) recharges in 10 min w/440 or 6 hours overnight w/110
4) has 12 year life
5) have 2nd generation coming which will double range in '07

So I have to ask, if this doesn't meet the specs, then what is wrong with the specs? This vehicle is out there demonstrating every day and nobody disputes the claims. So what's wrong with the specs?

High price? The first pocket calculator cost $90 and would +, -, X, & /. Altair is a research company with lab scale production. Wait until somebody with manufacturing expertise buys them and revs it up.


Some politicians want you to have no faith in your government, so they get into office and give you every reason to have no faith in your government. Witness Katrina as a prime example.

ANY government funding for anything but war and defense goes contrary to conservative ideology. So the reason for dong this might be that they want to look like they are doing something. Hence the paltry amount of money.


Hey you guys , don´t like to rub it in but several companies here
in Northern Italy and Switzerland have been making effective BEV´s
for around two years now .

The battery used is the Zebra Type which seems to have extreamly
good performance for size weight etc , the 20KWh pack weighs about
165 kg ,and is about the size of a medium suitcase , it does not suffer
from cold like the lithium cell and can achive a half charged state
within a mere 45 mins with a full charge taking about 8 hrs .

The doner car used is a Fiat Panda 4 door hatchback , and has a range
of 75 to 85 miles on a charge , top speed is limited to about 70 mph
car has all the safety features airbags etc , and is available to buy now
for around 25000 dollars

companys using this cell

Smiths industrial vehicles
Mes Dea

there is a second generation of Zebra cell in development at
the moment , and Mes Dea are building a new factory in
Switzerland to manufacture this cell in large quantitys , which
should bring the price down .

So unless I am mistaken , and I have seen these cars on the road
and talked to owners of the vehicles , some of which have covered
close to 18000 miles in two years with no apparent degredation
of the battery ! the tecnology is here to enable anyone who has
the money to buy a 100% electric car, great for commuting , taking
the kids to school , shopping etc , and also help the planet .


Sorry I forgot to say , I believe there was no government
money used to develop this battery


$14 million, give me a break!! Ford gave it's new CEO $39 million for 4 months on the job.



Unfortunately, battery technology doesn't follow Moore's law, so your pocket calculator analogy simply isn't applicable. The Phoenix batteries aren't ready to put into a production vehicle (50k/yr) with a 100,000 mile warranty and a sale price of under $30k. But Stan is right. We're almost there.

da vinci

Of course governments never do anything right, ever.
We, all of us, destroy the planet, and that is the way it should be.

However, in Gaalifornia, the useless government was the first in the world to mandate catalytic converters in cars, regulate car emissions, mandate Zev's later zeved by the general morons, and aha, yes, also the first in the world to mandate organic food standards. Not a conservative government by any stretch. And that is what conservatives can't understand, much less do.

Conservatives can destroy the planet pretending not to.


The facts appear that the USABC was formed in 1991:

"The United States Advanced Battery Consortium (USABC), a Department of Energy program, launched a major program to produce a “super” battery to get viable electric vehicles on the road as soon as possible."

Six years later 1997 a non-member Toyota introduced the Prius in Japan with NiMh batteries.

1999 Honda another non-member begins selling Insight hybrid and EV Plus NiMh.

EV1 first rev was "advanced" lead acid batteries. Product co-funded by USABC is scrapped in 2003.

2004 Ford introduced Escape hybrid.

Question is: What has the USABC contributed to new battery technology? Why have we not seen ANY significant results from this sixteen year program? Why build a consortium of automakers thoroughly invested in the continuance of the ICE and petroleum fuel to make a competitive electric energy system?

If DOE had handed out a few grants to silicon valley startups, universities and independent R&D labs in 1991 - we would be firmly settled into LiIon, nano-particle technology by now.

Hazard to say it sure looks like DOE blew it - to the tune of several billion $$$. But hey, $14M now ain't chicken feed is it?

Warren Heath

Chump change to an organization (USABC) that has had a dismal track record of achievement. Another token gesture by the Big Interests Bush Administration to funding realistic technologies that could solve the energy & global warming crisis. This while pouring billions into nutball pork barrel schemes like Hydrogen economy, Fuel Cell vehicles, Corn Ethanol, and now it seems even cellulosic ethanol is a exceedingly dubious proposition. And that doesn't include the trillion dollars dumped into the "We want to get Oil for my Buddies" Bush/Cheney Iraq War.


Stan Peterson writes Government seldom if ever solves any problems.
This is what conservatives seem to believe. That's why they are incapable of governing, as has been aptly demonstrated over the last six years.

Aside from the remaining rightwing ranting, Stan does make some good points regarding battery tech.


Plenty of left wing ranting here.I believe Mike asked to refrain from wild diversions.These comments invite response from the right and devolve into Iraq War
congress {IWC}.

Warren: I do believe USABC preceeeded the nutball Bush admin.Ditto hydrogen nirvana.I read of the wonderful promise of hydrogen in the late eighties and throughout the nineties.

Im glad its "only 14 million" as I worry about investing to much through the gov whether dem or repub.I live in Boston where dems from Dukakis to Tip Oneil pushed for the big dig.The unions revved up support to a fever pitch.Kennedy,Kerry et al brought home the bacon to sink into this money pit.

How do you think this crowd would have done with Katrina?My point is that big governments capability to handle complex jobs{hows public education looking} is dismal.It is dismal in dem admin and repub admin {Public ed reform in the eighties,nineties,oo's}.

I think we need to look for solutions outside gov and from within ourselves or we will be fighting amongst ourselves while the princes{congress} chuckle at how easy it is to divert our attention while they attach siphons to the treasury.


Remember it was the government that built the roads, helped pay for the telephone wires to get put up and probably had a lot to do with the wiring of electricity.
The wasteful and corupt government pays for many projects that no captiol corporation would fund because there is no ROI (though Toyota seems to be able to work around this which makes me think shame on US companies)

I dont know why Kent said that
the nano-safe batteris are not ready.
They might be costly but they seem to be plenty ready.
100 miles plus miles on a charge and 12 to 15 year life span is good enough for me and my wife.

With those battereies I could commute back and forth to Chicago everyday and I live pretty far out. So how unrealistic is this again? Everything seems very real to me except for base cost.

What I have always been wondering is what the cost could become in mass production? No one seems to have estimates on that.

Nick Flynn

I'm a big EV fan but I broadly agree with many of the points Stan raises. I cannot see any evidence of conspiracies to stop battery electric vehicles. The free market is functioning as it should, there is a good reason why we don't see many EV's or PHev's on the road now, its because they aren't as cheap as stand alone ICE cars.

A good example of a possible Phev battery is a123 system M1 cell. From the information I've read they have no calender life degration and are rated at 2000 cycles to 80%. If we add a 40 mile pack that give us 80,000 miles before the pack starts to degrade, even after this they would still function, all be it with a lower all electric range.

Car companies have as much access to this information as we do and yet they're not racing to develope phev's. The reason is fairly simple, as the situation stands today they don't believe that Phev's offer good value for the buyer, or conversly they don't think they'll sell many of them. Of course there are tenative steps in the phev direction. I've heard rumours that the 2009 prius is to have a 10 mile all electric range. This is a great step, but a long way from 30 or 40 mile packs that the 'plug in coalition' are suggesting.

Of course there are very good reason why we should have more EV's on the road. Here are the ones I often see advocated:

1: Reduced contribution to global warming, with the potential of a neglible contribution if zero carbon energy sources are used for the electricity source.

2: A huge reduction in air pollution, with the potential of zero air pollution, if natural gas,nuclear or renewables are the electricity source.

3: Mitigation of the potential problems of peak oil.

4: A reduction in dependency on the middle east and the conncommitant oil wars surrounding the world greatest 'strategic prize'.

5: Sustainability. Batteries are recyclable, electric motors can last forever: we are creating a resource that can be used by future generations.

All the of the above have one thing in common. They do not offer the buyer any individual benefit. Or conversely the costs of using ICE cars are not paid by the purchaser of the car and therefore do not represent a market for car companies to chase.

By screaming at car manufacturers to produce EV's all we will get is some slick PR. ie: a long stream of concept cars and nothing actualy produced.

If we actually want to see EV's on the road. We could try one of a number of things.

1: Try stimulate battery development via subidies, like the 14 million for the USABC.

2: Put a dollar cost on the above benifits of EV's or conversly put a dollar cost on the above costs of ICE's. Examples might be; switching taxation from income to oil. Creating a purchase tax on inefficient cars and/or a subsidy for efficient cars.

3: Direct regulation of cars. Ie mandating specific or average fuel economy.

4: As consumers learn to purchase cars that represent bad value for ourselves but good value for others/future generations and convince the car companies that we're serious.


Whatever we do -- let's not admit that government /industry consortiums serve masters other than the public. If you had a couple trillion $$ invested in petroleum infrastructure would you want a successful EV? Whereas the little guys, A123, AltairNano, and the Japanese seem to forge ahead in spite of the big distractions.

Locking up technological development in a handful of "consortium" programs effectively eliminates the opportunity for independent, out-of-the-box innovation. The very thing that universities, entrepreneurs, and free-market laboratories do well.

As the USABC consortium has proved - the big guns serve too many masters for productive innovation.

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