Sun Microsystems founder Vinod Khosla has not been shy about making his bets on the automotive future known. Wherever there has been an opportunity to invest in or promote advanced ethanol, it seems Khosla was there, giving it at least a cursory look (see, for example, Coskata, which GM also invested in). He even described his "big biofuels bet" back in 2006.
Considering his millions of statements dollars supporting next-generation biofuels, it's no surpriise that he's skeptical of plug-in vehicles – he has called them "toys" and that batteries are "immaterial." His vision for the future includes advanced liquid fuels beyond ethanol – think biobutanol, for starters – instead of plug-in power. Recently, he made the claim that the potential of lithium-ion batteries was "overhyped." You can imagine how that was received by the wired-rati.

Khosla has now taken the time to clarify what he meant by "overhyped." Turns out, the venture capitalist sees "plenty of money to be made in both batteries and biofuels," but just doesn't think they have the disruptive power to really move the world into a new, low-carbon future. They're not the Black Swan he's looking for. Radical changes in battery pricing (down to about $250/kWh instead of the more common $1,000/kWh we hear today), construction and manufacturing need to come online before batteries become "truly competitive." Companies like Sakti3, Seeo and – maybe – EESTOR (he makes it clear he's skeptical of EESTOR) represent the type or research that needs to be done in advanced batteries. Khoslae is ready to throw money into research for new batteries, he just doesn't think we should get too excited. Yet.

[Source: Grist]
Photo credit: James Duncan Davidson/O'Reilly Media, Inc.


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