Battery makers focus on electric cars


They are the key to providing reliable and long-range power.

A new initiative is ramping up battery production.

Fremont's Mobius Power is one of 14 American companies banding together to build a battery plant for electric cars. They say the need is urgent as U.S. car makers shift toward electric vehicles.

"Currently most of the technologies are developed here, but then are mass produced in Asia. So it's very critical for the success of this industry for U.S. companies to build in the U.S." says Mobius Power CEO Aakar Patel.

Mobius and its alliance partners have applied for a $1 billion federal grant to build a single battery plant. They argue it would take too much time and money to construct individual plants.

Instead, they want to focus on technology. For example, electric car batteries need to be engineered for a wide range of weather conditions.

"In an automotive application you have people operating in Phoenix, Arizona. Their cars get very hot. Anchorage, Alaska, it gets very cold. So, typical batteries today don't handle that wide operating temperature range, so our technology platform will," said Mobius Product Development Vice President Mark Juzkow.

The same lithium-ion batteries used in notebook computers will power future electric cars. In fact, nearly 7,000 of them are combined to power the Tesla.

The cylinder has been the de facto shape and size of lithium-ion batteries for some 20 years ever since Sony standardized it. But as U.S. companies begin to develop a new generation for the U.S. automotive industry the size and form could change dramatically.

"Form factor depends on the technologies of each of our companies. It depends on the car companies. It depends on many different factors so it's not an easy question to answer," says Patel.

But they could be square, flat or even round. And, if the alliance succeeds, they will be American-made.

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