Recently, there has been some blog chatter about my comments on the future of lithium ion batteries — my goal here is to clarify my stance.
I do believe that these batteries have been over-hyped in terms of technology available today. However, little focus was given to my statement that Khosla Ventures is backing the technology because the “lithium-ion markets are here today. We’re investing because there are great markets.”
So what kinds of technology are we investing in? I think the traditional approach to lithium ion battery making, such as A123, is going to be competing in an overheated, nearly-commoditized market and will probably not (I guess never say never!) get down the cost curve in the next 5 years. (Longer-term forecasts are futile because so-called experts can make anything they want up — we all know long term we will be on fusion power.)
A number of incremental improvements are underway, but they will at best offer a 2X improvement in price performance. A123 may be a best-in-class battery, but it lost out in the GM Volt race to the LGChem battery, which at the pack level delivers less than 50 KWhr/... Read more