It's looking increasingly likely that plug-in vehicles will not entirely bring America energy independence, at least not in terms of energy storage. The fact that American business over the last couple of years seems to have largely given up on manufacturing in favor of being a service economy means that we will continue to depend on the likes of Japan and China for our battery needs. The latest company to chase the potential bonanza represented by plug-in vehicles is Toshiba. The consumer electronics company plans to spend $194 million to expand production of its super charge ion batteries (SCiB) to 3 million cells per month in 2010. That's an increase from the current 150,000 cells per month. The goal is to capture a significant chunk of the market for electric and plug-in hybrid batteries. Toshiba's SCiB cells use a lithium titanate chemistry similar to those from American company Altairnano, although it's not known if the Japanese company uses a similar nano-particle construction technique. The titanate batteries are more stable than the metal oxide batteries used in most consumer electronics making them safer and able to withstand higher charge rates. However, they have a lower energy density, reducing potential range. Charge rates are also limited by the charging infrastructure, meaning most users won't be able to achieve the fast charge capabilities of the battery.

[Source: Automotive News - Sub. req'd]

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