So what will it take to get the big auto-makers to manufacture new, more fuel-efficient vehicles? How about massive losses, uncertain oil prices, and a big fat recession.
While the auto industry should have been on this like white on rice at least ten years ago, it looks like arrogance and complete disregard for long-term planning may finally be giving way to the reality of an oil-strapped future.
At the 2009 North American International Auto Show, fuel-efficiency and electrification are taking center stage. But the question is, will these new vehicles just end up being a bunch of the same useless prototypes we've seen in the past? You know, the "latest" technology that conveniently never seems to transition from the labs to the lots?
I guess we'll find out soon enough. In the meantime, I'd like to draw your attention to some interesting announcements from GM regarding the company's Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle — the Chevy Volt.
You see, investors looking for a way to profit from the future production of electric and plug-in electric vehicles will likely find the lion's share of opportunities with the high-performance battery manufacturers that will "fuel" these vehicles.
Now last year, a lot of investors were rallying around A123 Systems — a high-performance battery manufacturer that was considered one of the front runners to supply GM with the batteries it needs for the Volt. A123, by the way, is set to go public this year.
However, GM has recently announced that it has chosen the Compact Power/LG Chem consortium for the first generation of the Volt. The Detroit automaker also announced that it will develop its own in-house capacity to manufacture batteries in the future.
While this isn't necessarily great news for A123, it does indicate that GM could be a lot more focused on advanced battery technology as a core strategic competency. And A123 isn't out of the race either. The company still has contracts with Black & Decker, and GM representatives have stated that the company will continue to grow its lineup of battery suppliers for cell development with companies like A123 Systems.
GM's new battery lab is set to open later this year. It will be the largest automotive battery lab in the U.S.
More on the Volt from our archives.
GM Releases 2011 Chevy Volt Photos & Specifications! (Tons of ...
The Buzz Around the Chevy Volt
GM Volt Plug-In Hybrid to use Batteries by LG Chem
Chevy Volt: An All-Electric Gasoline Hybrid?