From mobile devices to hybrid and electric cars, growing demand for stored power is driving battery technology development and the scaling of battery manufacturing. Battery design and manufacture also have become a strategic battleground in the emerging energy technology industry.
In the U.S., A123 Systems has quickly evolved from hot startup to the largest battery maker in North America. By supplying a key energy technology that gives the country a foothold in a strategic global market, A123 also could be one of the best hopes for reviving U.S. manufacturing. “Our goal is to create an entire [battery] ecosystem,” says CTO and co-founder Bart Riley.
Meanwhile, the Chinese government is pouring huge amounts of money into development of a battery industry infrastructure. The Asian giant’s nascent electric vehicle industry will be a steady customer, driving volume manufacturing that will help relatively inexperienced Chinese manufacturers move up the battery technology learning curve.
In Japan, battery technology development has been driven by the explosion of mobile devices requiring unique battery form factors and longer-lived power sources, as well as by the rise of hybrid and electric vehicles. Japan’s neighbor and rival South Korea is also powering up its battery design and manufacturing R&D; again, electric vehicles will be a key demand driver.
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