US and European funding for electric vehicle batteries continues to trickle in but at a more modest scale than before.
The venture capital arm of automaker major General Motors GM and Japanese electronics giant Itochu Technology Ventures have made a joint investment of $4.2m into US-based next generation lithium battery developer Sakti3, which has yet to commercialise its battery, to assist it advance its manufacturing capabilities.
Following BASF buying lithium sulfur traction battery company Sion Power, US battery specialist PolyPlus also in "rechargeable lithium" batteries without intercalation as opposed to lithium-ion traction batteries, has been awarded $8.99m from the US Department of Energy (DOE), through the Investment in Innovative Manufacturing Technologies program.
Working in partnership with Corning and Johnson Controls, PolyPlus will use the capital to complete development of its lithium electrode battery component. It is one of 13 to receive funds through the DOE initiative, which forms part of the Obama administration's strategy of investing in energy technologies that create manufacturing employment.
Steven Chu, US Energy Secretary, said, "When it comes to clean energy, our motto should be Invented in America, made in America, and sold around the world."
"The projects announced today will improve the competitive position of US industry and help manufacturers produce more while saving energy, saving money and protecting our air and water."
Steven Visco, CEO of PolyPlus, added, "This DOE award is a major milestone for PolyPlus and enables us to move more rapidly toward commercialisation of our lithium metal battery technology, which has shown tremendous promise for applications ranging from unmanned underwater robots to electric vehicles."
"From start to finish, this technology is made in America, and we are excited about adding new jobs in the US as we work to complete development and ramp up production of our Protected Lithium Electrode. This is a significant event for PolyPlus and our partners in this project, and will enable us to more quickly reach volume production."
However, Steven Chu had earlier congratulated Envia on achieving 400W/kg with lithium-ion technology highlighting how it is not yet a given that "rechargeable lithium" involving metallic lithium and other "after lithium-ion" batteries can do better.
France-based easyLi is seeking €1m for R&D, IP protection, product development and working capital. The company designs and manufactures of batteries and energy storage systems, and is keen to tap into electric bikes, according to company CEO François Barsacq.
"Definitely the electric bicycle market is by far the first and biggest market of electric vehicles in Europe," he said, presumably referring to numbers not money.
Last year, almost one million electrical power-assisted bicycles were sold in Europe, mainly in countries such as Germany and the Netherlands.
Unusually, the market is not dominated by Chinese producers, Barsacq said, and most of the batteries for these vehicles currently come from the Japanese companies, Panasonic and Sanyo. He added that Europe has not really been active in this market and that besides easyLi, there is only one German company in the segment. The company has established a first three year contract with the French Post, to equip their next generation of power assisted bicycles for mail delivery.
For more read Electric Vehicle Traction Batteries 2012-2022.