Obama's 'battery story' has yet to put a charge in the American publicBut can Obama's battery companies fail if he continues to provide massive subsidies in perpetuity?
By Anne E. Kornblut and Steven Mufson, Washington Post
After struggling to connect with voters on the economy over the last 17 months, President Obama is casting an unlikely hero as the new star of his narrative of redemption and recovery: the battery.
Obama's grand vision for the battery -- specifically, the advanced batteries that power plug-in hybrid and electric cars and trucks -- is that it can become a new industry that both weans the United States off oil and provides a new manufacturing backbone.
The problem, however, is that the battery story has yet to occur, and might never. For now, it is just a promise. Skeptics argue that there will be insufficient demand for advanced batteries to sustain the U.S. factories now being built, and that such batteries are already being expertly produced abroad.
"The battery story is highly questionable," said Menahem Anderman, founder and chief executive of Total Battery Consulting, who estimates that the global capacity to build car batteries in 2014 will be three times greater than the demand that year. "Basically, there's really no proven market, neither electric vehicle nor plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. And there's really no battery company in the United States that has a verified product."
"The stimulus money was supposed to support something on order of 300,000 plug-in hybrid batteries a year by 2013," Anderman said. "If GM can hold to its number, the market in the United States will be in the 40,000 range. And most of [the batteries for] it will come from an LG Chemical factory in Korea.
"I'm in the industry and want to see the industry succeed," Anderman added. "There was just a lack of synchronization between the status of the technology and the rushing out to build plants. " He said he fears that the drive could ultimately boomerang politically if many of the plants fail. [link]
But the prospect of success or failure is of secondary importance in his world. "Stimulus" and "green" stuff reign supreme.
So we'll be churning out batteries that have no destination.
If only the buggy whip industry had had such enlightened backing in 1908.
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Related: One of my weblog posts from 2005:
The Soviets always tried to perfect a comprehensive, progressive agenda in the old USSR but they failed miserably ...The Soviets and bread. Obama and his batteries. In their world, the effort is what matters.
What such phraseology reminds me of whenever I read it (admittedly less and less as time goes by and these old fossils and their ideas die off) is a system that the Russians created for themselves to bring prosperity to the people. The Soviet bureaucrats mandated that massive bread factories be built; the capacity of which was intended to feed every hungry child in the land. Now that's comprehensive. The factories were built and the bread was manufactured. The output was wondrous. Tons and tons of bread produced each day. To be stacked up to rot away on the shipping docks because those bureaucrats who were in charge of bread weren't in charge of trucks to transport the bread to the marketplace. A different set of bureaucrats was supposed to be handling that agenda but nobody at the bread bureaucracy bothered to tell the transportation bureaucracy that trucks would be needed. The latter was instead cranking out trollies so that the people of Moscow could make their way to the grocery bureaucracy and stand in line for bread that too often never materialized. The riot police bureaucracy was a mainstay in the "comprehensive, progressive agenda," as you might imagine.
But the bureaucrats accomplished what they were instructed to do. The agendums became ever more grandiose - and comprehensive - and the people starved.