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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 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.

Harvey D.


If USABC has done so bad, (another $15 million will not make much difference) why isn't called to the bench to be judged or dismantled?

If the 2009 Prius III has a 10-mile electric range, why couldn't we support potential buyers with a $5+k subsidy or tax credit? Sales would multiply, cost would come down and other manufacturers (hopefully the Big-3) would quickly jump in to survive.

Other types of direct or indirect subsidies (except Universities R & D) may not be required. Let the market play its role.

Funding this special short term (10 to 20 years) program could be with an additional progressive gas/fuel tax + an escalating proportionnal purchase penalty on all gas guzzlers (i.e. vehicles above 4.9 or 5.9 liter/Km)


1) For a 6.0 L/Km vehicle, the penalty would be 6.0 x $200 = $1200

2) For a 12.0 L/Km vehicle the penalty could be 12 x $250 = $3000

3) For a 18.0 L/Km vehicle the penalty could be 18.0 x $ $300 = $5400

Both, the new gas tax and the gas guzzler purchase penalties, could be applied progressively over a suitable period (5 to 10 years) to give purchasers and manufacturers time to adapt.

Warren Heath

I get tired of hearing these simplistic attempts to label any claims of government or industry immoral acts of self-interest as "Conspiracy theories". With equal logic, one can label anyone who criticizes so-called "conspiracy theories" as Gullible Fools, who believe in Santa, Bambi and the Enchanted Forest.

The reality is governments & business & interest groups routinely subvert the free market. These influences include lobbyists, political patronage appointments, lawsuits (i.e. against the CARB zero emission vehicle mandate), phony scientific research, influences of media through finance of supportive media and threats of legal action or removing advertising for unfavorable media, campaign contributions, phony “grassroots” campaigns financed by companies to repeal legislation, like Chevron funding a campaign to kill the green wellhead tax in California, "freebies" for politicians in return for favorable legislation, hiring high-priced politically connected influence peddlers, corporate collusion & price fixing, trade cartels such as OPEC or DeBeers, politicians who have connections with industry both before or after being elected, devious organizations that promote people to positions of influence, i.e. the Bilderberg group & the Trilateral Commission and then of course there is the old human trait of helping out their buddies.

Do you believe George “I’d sell my soul for Oil” Bush really invaded Iraq to get at those WMD’s?

These quotes from John Westlund provide good examples:

“…After the Ovonic NiMH battery was shown to be capable of allowing battery electric vehicles ranges comparable to gasoline cars with its repeated demonstration of allowing a converted Geo Metro to obtain a highway range in excess of 200 miles per charge in less than ideal conditions [60], and at a total pack cost competitive with an internal combustion engine in high volume [61], its patent was bought out by Chevron-Texaco, who refuses to mass market the battery at a price affordable to hobbyists and small manufacturers to this day. They are so protective of the patent, that they have sued Toyota for using an allegedly copied version of the battery in its Prius hybrid [62]. There is no reason pertaining to technological limitations why these batteries cannot be placed into conversions by hobbyists and into commercially-manufactured EVs by small businesses for an affordable price. I personally suggest that those reasons are political in nature. To quote Victor Tikhonov of Metric Mind Engineering on the NiMH battery, “Not available for non-technical reasons and may never be to you and to me [63].” The Oilies can be thanked for that….”

“… The big three were caught trying to use the United States Advanced Battery Consortium to keep Stan Ovshinsky from revealing the capabilities of his NiMH battery to the public at a CARB hearing. Ovshinsky remarked, “They tried to stop us from going to California. They threatened us! I said to them, ‘Look, the Communist Party no longer runs the world. A party line cannot be imposed upon people who don’t believe in it. The consortium is set up to make sure the American public has an electric car. It was not set up to fight the mandate. We are a battery company, and we’re not going to lie to the public [77]!’” Further, battery companies were bound by GM not to reveal to the public the advances in battery electric vehicle technology they had made [78]. Ovshinsky also remarked about the viability of his NiMH battery, “The people who are saying that battery technology isn’t ready are absolutely wrong. It’s part of the party line. It’s self-perpetuating. It’s very sad. You tell a lie big enough and long enough, and people start to believe it. The fact of the matter is volume. That’s the only reason batteries are the cost that they are. [79]” Indeed, as mentioned, in volume, the price for an automotive-sized Ovonic NiMH battery pack was competitive with an internal combustion engine, assuming units for 20,000 cars were produced each year [61]… “


Jamesee wrote:

Batteries don't follow Moores Law so your analogy doesn't work.


Ha! So give up working on it eh?

Industry drives down costs every year across the economy. If you listen to Altairs last conference call you will hear that they are implementing cost and production initiatives that will drive costs from $2/kwh to $.33! Couple that with a battery that will double the range and you don't need Moores Law, you just need manufacturing expertise, production scale, continued R&D and voila! You're driving an ev before you know it.

That batttery provides for the driving needs of 80% of the driving public TODAY since 80% of all drivers drive no more than 60 miles round trip every day. The next generation battery will provide for the driving needs of many more.

Now, imagine an economy where we no longer import 25m bbls of oil/day. It can happen in 10 years.



"Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little." Edmund Burke

Some people may want to do nothing about energy independence, but I assure you I'm not one of them. I also would like to see an economy where "we don't import millions of barrels of oil per day". And I agree with you that it could be accomplished in ten years, but I seriously doubt that public sentiment would allow the country to implement the policies necessary to accomplish that goal. I wish it were otherwise.

It is simply a fact that battery technology doesn't improve at a rate anywhere near the rate of improvement of semiconductors. [You did use that argument.] But battery technology has improved steadily for many years, and continued improvement can be expected.

We absolutely need a better battery for electric vehicles, and the development of that technology should be a national priority. As an engineer who has designed battery chargers and has visited battery factories many times (both NiMH and lithium ion), I just don't believe the reason we don't yet have an economical, reliable, and environmentally rugged battery for EVs has anything to do with oil companies' anticompetitive behavior.

As I've said before, when the history of the EV is written in 20 years it won't be a conspiracy story, it'll be a technology development story. We're not there yet, but we're getting close.


PHEVs will push the battery technology along the path towards EVs. They are not the same load profile, but when there is a market for PHEVs that is proven to exist, capital will form to fill that market. Right now, even if we had the ultimate EV battery, there is not any evidence I have seen that masses of people would sell their ICE vehicles and buy an EV. For large investment to pool, it usually has to be more than a niche market to hit critical mass.

Warren Heath

JamesEE, EV’s were totally marketable 8 years ago with the NiMH battery, which is still happily in use in the Toyota Rav4 BEV, even in some cases at 150,000 miles with the original batteries. Certainly BEV's would start out as a niche market, but automobile demand is so huge, current choice is so boring, and going green is very trendy, so that niche would be very large. Unfortunately, Chevron killed the NiMH battery for BEV's and Storage Applications, except for certain special customers like GM and the military. And large format NiMH batteries are no longer available. The largest available now are the size F, 14 AH, since Cobasys licensed a Chinese company to produce batteries specifically for Electric Bicycle applications.

It's easy to wave your hands in the air and say there is no dirty deeds by vested interests, but the facts speak for themselves. If you want to know them check out the comments of Wayne Brown, who is an expert in the field, at:

Way back in 2000 the chairman of ECD Ovonics stated they could produce the NiMH battery, in volumes of 20,000 or more, for $250 per kwh, which would be $7500-$10,000 for a 150-250 mile BEV battery pack. He also stated he expects they are on track to produce them at $150 per kwh. Which for the Volt would be $4500. University of California, Davis also determined that present cost in volume would be $220 per kwh. Still a bit pricey for the average consumer, but don’t forget the standard EV chassis can easily be made as BEV, with a 30-40 kwh battery pack, a series HEV with a 5 kwh battery, a series PHEV with a 10 kwh battery, or a even a FCHEV (fuel cell series HEV). Isn’t that what E-Flex is supposed to be?


I think this money will be wasted. USABC is a consortium of the big three automakers: Ford, GM, and Chrystler. Have you seen who killed the electric car? These guys seem intent on slowing down progress of the electric car. Altairnano has a lithium ion battery that can handle 15,000 full charge/discharge cycles and have solved thermal runaway issues. Cars can run highway speeds for 250 miles between charges. Check out there web site for more info. Altairnano is getting blackballed by the big three because they want to develop their own battery and hold back the technology, as they have historically done. Senator Biden is trying to get more money for batteries, and if USABC gets a hold of it, they will waste it. Don't trust USABC or the big three automakers when it comes to the electric car. I bet they have connections with big oil.



Your analysis overlooks one very important fact. In 1998 the average price of oil was about $12/barrel, and during the decade of the 1990's the price averaged around $17.

I don't thing the oil companies kept the price down to kill off EVs, killing their profits at the same time. Even the best batteries today couldn't compete against that price.

I wish we could increase fuel taxes to ensure that EVs (HEVs, PHEVs, and BEVs) don't get derailed again. Battery tech is better now, but oil markets are very volatile. If there's a recession the price could go down to <$30. Maybe it won't happen, but if it does we'll need to react differently than we did during the '90s economic boom.


but its not just about costs, is it ? it comes down to the very air that
we breathe at the end of the day !
The only people that could consider themselves worse off at the
rapid introduction of EV´s are the car companies , and the oil companies,
everyone else is going to come up smelling of roses , rather than burnt
diesel fuel as it is here in europe!

Warren Heath

JamesEE, the original intent to get the Automakers to produce EV's was because of the Smog problem in California. The fact is Smog kills, and lives of the innocent were sacrificed, in order to cater to the perceived interests of the Oil & Auto lobbies. Estimates range as high as 100,000 people in the U.S. are killed every year due to the effects of smog from vehicle exhaust and gasoline fumes. The problem is much worse in developing nations, who like it or not, will follow the lead of the U.S. Compared to Oil Barons & Big Auto Executives, drunk drivers are Boy Scouts.

Buying EV's because they are cheaper for energy usage is not a good strategy to market them initially anyways. Best idea is like Teslas, sell a high end vehicle that will attract a niche market, due to it's very impressive and unique qualities. Then use the publicity, and revenue to finance a upper mid-range vehicle, which is just what Tesla is doing.



I've bashed US auto companies plenty on this website. But consumers have happily bought homes far from their workplaces and ICE cars and fuel from the "auto executives and oil barons" to get them where they want to go. I don't doubt that air polution has killed thousands of people prematurely, but it's simplistic to say that it was all caused by the executives of a handful of companies.

This website is all about the engineering, politics, and economics of changing the world's transportation system. We can't do that without participation of BIG corporations. But it's also a battle for the hearts and minds of consumers, to convince them to make lifestyle and purchasing decisions that move us towards cleaner transportation, with the additional benefit of reduced dependence on oil from corrupt countries.


The book The Long Emergency outlines why suburbs may have been the big mistake. Rather than clean transportation and not having to transport goods and people far, we went for 100 mile commutes and what the author calls the "3000 mile salad" (California's Imperial Valley to fine restaurants in New York)



the quotes from Ovshinsky. I cannot find a legitimate reference other than a blog. And all they have are the footnotes without a reference as well.

Where is he factually quoted in a legitimate publication?



True brilliance below...

Do you believe George “I’d sell my soul for Oil” Bush really invaded Iraq to get at those WMD’s?

France, Germany, Dutch, Swiss, etc., looked the other way while Saddam murdered over 300,000 of his own people. And so did we Americans. Every nation has blood on its hands. Every nation is corrupt. No nation is free of the blood of Iraqi, Iranian, Sudanese, Nigerian, etc.

Sure, Bush is evil. He stopped looking the other way. Saddam kept murdering, torturing people, inciting hatred of the West and supporting terrorist. Just like the Sudanese do while China looks the other way today.

Please wake me up when France, Germany, China, Spain, Italy or any other country stops the murdering of innocents over "oil" in Sudan.

Three Million people have died in Sudan. Now, will you rant against Chinese leaders? Will you protest? Will you write your elected leaders? Why are the people of Sudan dying? Oil. Oil for China.

This is not a right/left issue. Because, if we did not get rid of Saddam. People would still die for oil. This way, the people of Iraq have hope for the future. It is a slim one, difficult, but I support them and our soldiers who volunteered, reenlisted and are there working with hundreds of thousands of other Iraqi people to build a new nation built upon Rule of Law.

Warren Heath

Michael, there is zero doubt that if it weren't for Iraq's Oil, the U.S. would not be there. You mention Sudan, and you are right 100,000's of people have been murdered there for 20 years or more. The U.S. pretty much ignored the fact untill recently, and there isn't a chance in hell the U.S. will invade Sudan, even if they murder 10 million, unless there is oil.

The simple truth is the Arab's don't want the U.S. in Iraq, and would rather suffer under Sudam then suffer under an "Infidel" imposed government. And the previous Bush administration could easily have invaded Iraq at the end of the Kuwait war, but rightfully concluded that it was in the U.S.A's best interest to leave Sudam there as a buffer against Iran. And a recent think tank report has concluded that the biggest winner's in the Iraq war have been Oil Companies, Al Queda, and Iran. And I for one have always believed, it is Iran that is the most serious problem in the region, not Sadam's Iraq, and that truth is becoming more true every day. But the U.S. now weakened by the failed Iraq war is unable to deal with the most serious nuclear Iran problem.

Warren Heath

The quotes from Ovshinsky are from an old article by John Westlund, which is at
Unfortuneatly, a lot of the references are now outdated, but John has promised to do an updated article when time permits. Also, the bad guys have been systematically removing references that show their true colors, in particular, Chevron-Cobasys.

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