The Auto Industry Bets Its Future on Batteries

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“Today’s batteries are not competitive,” said Jagdeep Singh, chief executive of QuantumScape, which is based in San Jose, Calif. “Batteries have enormous potential and are critical for a renewable energy economy, but they have to get better.”

For probably the most part, the entire cash pouring into battery technology is nice news. It places capitalism to work on fixing a global problem. However this reordering of the auto industry may also declare some victims, just like the companies that construct components for inner combustion engine cars and trucks, or automakers and investors that wager on the incorrect technology.

“Battery innovations are not overnight,” said Venkat Srinivasan, director of the Argonne National Laboratory’s Collaborative Center for Energy Storage Science. “It can take you many years. All sorts of things can happen.”

Most experts are sure that demand for batteries will empower China, which refines a lot of the metals utilized in batteries and produces more than 70 p.c of all battery cells. And China’s grip on battery production will slip only marginally in the course of the next decade regardless of formidable plans to increase production in Europe and the United States, in keeping with projections by Roland Berger, a German management consulting agency.

Battery production has “deep geopolitical ramifications,” said Tom Einar Jensen, the chief executive of Freyr, which is constructing a battery manufacturing unit in northern Norway to benefit from the region’s plentiful wind and hydropower. “The European auto industry doesn’t want to rely too much on imports from Asia in general and China in particular,” he added.

Freyr plans to lift $850 million as part of a proposed merger with Alussa Energy Acquisition Corporation, a shell company that sold shares earlier than it had any assets. The deal, introduced in January, would give Freyr an inventory on the New York Stock Exchange. The company plans to make batteries utilizing technology developed by 24M Applied sciences in Cambridge, Mass.

The primary precedence for the industry is to make batteries cheaper. Electrical car batteries for a midsize vehicle cost about $15,000, or roughly double the worth they must be for electrical cars to attain mass acceptance, Mr. Srinivasan said.

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