Appearing Tuesday on Fox Business News, Charles Gassenheimer, chairman of Ener1, Inc. , an alternative energy company, said that the company will bring its automotive Lithium-ion battery to market by the end of 2008.
"Our batteries have already been tested by the United States Advanced Battery Consortium, which is General Motors, Ford and Chrysler," Mr. Gassenheimer told viewers of the Fox morning broadcast "CEO Corner." "We are the only battery company today using this Lithium-ion technology, which has met or exceeded all of the Big Three's requirements, especially and most importantly best-in-class in safety."
"We have already announced a commercial contract with Think Electric Vehicle in Norway," Gassenheimer added, referring to a $70 million development and supply agreement signed in October. "It's the largest electric vehicle company in Europe. You will see our batteries in their cars by the end of 2008." the Ener1 chairman told interviewer Alexis Glick.
Mr. Gassenheimer said that the size of the market for Lithium-ion power sources for electrical transportation, including hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and pure electric vehicles will burgeon in the next decade. The new technology provides consumers an immediate positive return on investment in purchasing a hybrid electric vehicle, while the nickel metal hydride batteries currently in use require a payback period of seven to ten years to cover the hybrid premium.
"This is really a supply problem," Mr. Gassenheimer commented to Fox, adding that the few U.S. companies currently involved in manufacturing Lithium-ion automotive batteries, rather than competing directly against each other, are collectively building a new industry. He says that Japanese automaker Toyota now accounts for 90 percent of the battery market for electrical transportation and that U.S. industry must rapidly catch up or risk ceding a major share of the new car market to foreign carmakers.
The Ener1 chairman notes that energy legislation now moving through Congress that would mandate a minimum 35-mpg standard in new cars has provided strong impetus to American carmakers to adopt more fuel-efficient technologies.
"Much of the world now, including Detroit, grasps that more efficient internal combustion engines and biofuels such as ethanol will not bring about the major environmental improvements and freedom from foreign oil that the times demand," Mr. Gassenheimer said. "That the Lithium-ion battery is the Holy Grail is now a given, and we and others have proven that it's a fully realizable technology for revolutionizing automotive transportation."