For companies in the lithium battery business, multi-segment marketing has become a necessity. A few years ago, electric vehicles looked like the next smartphone-like growth area for battery makers. Now, it's more turmoil than profits for some battery makers.

David Roberts is CEO of one of these companies – EnerDel Inc. EnerDel used to be a part of Ener1 prior to its bankruptcy that was caused by being so tied down after taking on a stake in Norweigan EV maker Think, which had its own downward spiral. EnerDel's new focus is to not count on electric vehicles to turn in profits, because EnerDel doesn't expect EV sales to be strong in the next few years. The battery maker will continue to monitor the EV industry, but the time has passed to rely on it as a big money maker.

Instead, EnerDel, based in Indianapolis, is now looking more at commercial accounts that would buy batteries for grid storage, medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, and home energy storage. One such client is the Alamada County, CA, transit authority, which uses EnerDel batteries to store electricity in its fuel-cell buses. Being creative and willing to travel abroad has brought in a Russian utility company and Japanese convenience store owners worried about living through another earthquake. This is all good news for the battery maker, but even before it ran into financial troubles, EnerDel was thinking about stationary energy storage. With the new focus on diversity, Roberts says he sees EnerDel becoming profitable next year – or by 2014 at the latest.

The company is not divorced from electric cars – in fact, EnerDel is continuing a relationship started by Ener1 in 2009 with Volvo to power the electric version of its C30. "We'd love to have 10 more like that," Roberts said. Today, EnerDel is not doing any business with Think.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 7 Comments
      porosavuporo
      • 2 Years Ago
      Wow, a sudden outbreak of common sense ! Now, if companies like A123 caught some of that bug ...
      brotherkenny4
      • 2 Years Ago
      The Think was not a bad car, they just never got the price where it needed to be.
        Spec
        • 2 Years Ago
        @brotherkenny4
        It was kind of a non-starter . . . a little two-seater with a plastic body that they were asking $36K for. That is a tough sell. And I say that as a happy owner of one. But I did buy it for a much discounted price. It is a great little commuter car. For such a small car, it is quite spacious inside.
          oktrader
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Spec
          Did you get yours in Chicago? I was sorely tempted. The price was about the same as building a decent conversion. But I was concerned about long-term support. If you watch the NetFlix show "lillyhammer", you'll see that the lead character gets one when he moves to Norway.
          brotherkenny4
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Spec
          Right, a little commuter, which I like. I mean I don't need my car to do anything but get me around where I want to go. I just couldn't see the 36K price as doable. I don't have that same need for male enhancement that most guys do.
      Jim McL
      • 2 Years Ago
      EnerDel is still supporting their batteries in Think City cars under warranty. There are many issues with the "heavier/bulky batteries" in grid storage. Short life, high maintenance. If you have megawatt hours of batteries strung together, you don't need to worry about fluid levels and maintenance charging of lead acid. Although those new lead carbon batteries are interesting: http://www.greencarcongress.com/2012/06/axion-20120625.html
      Spec
      • 2 Years Ago
      Well Think North American is in bankruptcy. They have been finishing up a final batch of Think City cars and selling them off at a steep discount but that was probably with an existing stock of Enerdel batteries. Electric Mobility Solutions AS is the name of the new company created from bankrupt Think. They are in stealth mode. Rumors are that they are working on a 4-seater EV car but who knows? I can't see grid-storage being a big market . . . Li-Ions are too valuable for that. They can do that with heavier/bulky batteries for much less money. PHEVs is the market they should be pushing for . . . but they just can't seem to snag any design wins.