Photo of downtown Indianapolis by Serge Melki. Licensed under CC license 2.0.
Silicon Valley wants to be the new Detroit. Meanwhile, Indianapolis wants to be the new Silicon Valley. That seems to be the gist of opposing reports, in the Indianapolis Star and the National Post, on the electric car efforts of those two regions. Actually the goals of the two regions are somewhat different. Mayors in the San Francisco Bay area recently hooked up with Shai Agassi and his Better Place start-up with the hope of getting an electric vehicle charging infrastructure. If successful, the region would facilitate the adoption of electric vehicles. In addition, start-ups like Tesla are located in nearby with an eye on building electric vehicles.
Indiana's goal is a bit different. In spite of the headline about being the silicon valley of the auto industry, Indiana already has a long history as part of the Detroit supply network. As the home of Delco Electronics, Kokomo was the birthplace of much of the guts of what made the EV1 go. The company now know as Delphi Electronics is still working on systems for the electric and hybrid vehicles. Delphi integrates the battery packs for the new Ford Fusion hybrid, for example. Other start-ups in the region include battery maker EnerDel which is developing lithium ion batteries as well as Altairnano in Anderson, IN.
The reality is that this isn't actually an either/or situation. There are different things going on in each region and there is plenty of room in the EV space for everyone for now. We just need someone to create an affordable one.
[Sources: Indianapolis Star, National Post]