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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



Governments and their RFPs. Why do I get the sinking feeling that this is another 14 Mil that will disapear into thin air with no results. RFP must stand for Runthrough Funds with Paper.


Nice to see some money going towards batteries. I'll just cross my fingers that the money doesn't get wasted.


I never have ANY problems with RFPs, RFQs, etc which come through Homeland Security for ANY state, county, or city and no problems as long as the equipment fits the specifications and requirements. Of course I'm only speaking from personal experience and perhaps you have dealt with billions of dollars worth of RFPs (and their follow ons) while I have only dealt in the 10's of millions...


The USABC has been around for a while yet I cannot find any tangible results from this organization. Where does the money go?


Hang on a minute , This technology already exists !

Next post will run "Car manufacturers demand government funds to develop
rounder wheel "

Roger Arnold

Battery development seems to be rolling along just fine as it is. I don't know any specifics of what's being funded here, and this is a case where details matter. However, on the surface, it has the appearance of a cosmetic attempt by DOE to make the agency look good. They're throwing money at developments that are already approaching commercial success.

Rafael Seidl

$14m isn't a whole lot for the federal government to spend, considering the $300/day price tag of Iraq. Still, I'd prefer to see governments use their clout to create a market for technologies that help meet energy policy goals.

Why not define the performance characteristics various government agencies want in their future (civilian) vehicle fleets plus a time horizon, price point and unit volume commitment? Establishing a floor for demand reduces risk and initial marketing overheads for entrepreneurs.

However, these performance characteristics should always be framed in terms of outcomes (e.g. fuel economy in a specified duty cycle) rather than pick specific technologies. Who's to say there isn't someone out there with an idea that's even better than a powering a PHEV with advanced batteries?


Near the end of the budget year , it is time for the DOE to get rid of some spare money. Happens every year.

kent beuchet

One poster seems to think that practical batteries are already here and don't need any financial support. I would suggest that it's touch and go even as to wehether the Chevy VOLT will, by 2010 , have a battery that is suitable just for plug-in hybrids, much less all electric powered cars. 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.
That, friends, is NOT the hallmark of a technology that is ready for prime time. I also draw attention to the call of all of the Big Three for Congress to fund $600 million for battery development, which prompted a Senate bill to do more or less just that : $100 million per year for the next five years. Why is there such a disconnect between the public's perception of battery technology and the reality? Perhaps because stories of advances in batteries neve mention the problems and drawbacks, like weight, cost, etc. Too much media copy is plain old cheeleading and hype. The clear fact is that right now, there does not exist a battery which meets the requirements of the automakers for a plug-in hybrid application. They are companies who plan on being around more than a few years and so cannot throw together the ridiculously absurd plug-ins that cost $10K and up, and provide a meager all-electric range from batteries that will need replacement long before the car does. There are plenty of small, backyard companies more than happy to forsake any future business to screw the public with their crappy plug-in conversions. I call on sites like this one to point out the fraud that's going on with these plug-in conversions. The technology doesn't ned a bunch of black eyes that will appear when the public finally gets
a dose of reality and starts asking pointed questions as to why a conversion that does little more than add about $2000 worth of batteries (voiding the car's warranty) costs over $10K.

Patty O

I agree with Kent. Batteries still need some tweaking before mainstream use and reliability. Check out lithium ion batteries on for some of their dissadvantages.
The government has lots of money. They can afford this.

hampden wireless

Considering batteries could free us from needing oil from unfreindly countries 14 mil seems like a real low number. How about one or two days of war money. See what that could do.



Wow!! Didn't know Iraq was such a bargain!

I agree that these contracts should be structured in a way that incentivizes the battery makers to meet certain goals in terms of performance and cost. Set a minimum acceptable standards with appropriate bonus fees with increments for exceeding those standards.

Frankly, the way this adminstration has bungled contracting in general makes me skeptical of any contracting effort on their part. Well, at least these funds don't appear to be going to Halliburton.

But really. This is a paltry amount of money for technology that could actually have a real impact on the efficiency and impact of our transportation system. With Iraq, we have paid billions and will pay billions more even after the war is over. This is a war whose impact will damage this country and, by extension, the world, for decades to come.


Patrick: My RFP experiences have been for Software for Canadian Governments that have phonebook sized RFPs that require responses even thicker. Sometimes the cost of dealing with the RFP is not far off the price of the software. Were you respoding to physical equipment RFPs?


I thought the Pork Barrel was empty.
What's with these Morons in Washington?


I thought the Pork Barrel was empty.
What's with these Morons in Washington?

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.

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