The Holy Grail may be within reach. That would be a sturdy, cheap, rechargable and recyclable battery for American-made hybrid cars if you are a believer in the religion of American enterprise. Today Michael Kanellos blogged about EnerDel, in the auto heartland of Indiana, which is aiming to have an inexpensive hybrid battery ready for the 2010 model American cars. EnerDel is supported by a number of private funders including Argonne Labs and USABC. Thay's the U.S. Advanced Battery Consortium, if you're collecting acronyms...and it's in turn part of USCAR, a consortium of the Detroit Big Three.
EnerDel wants to have a $1500 battery ready for the September, 2009, model debuts. That's about 10% of the current estimated cost to put a plug-in rechargable battery into current hybrids. Lowering the initial cost that much would certainly put plug-in cars closer to the mainstream.
EnerDel uses a lithium titanate battery. There are competitors using other chemical basics. The U.S. National Renewable Energy has a simple introduction to electric battery types being considered for cars. At the recent GoingGreen conference I heard the electric car guys say repeatedly that battery tech is crucial for them. Everything else is ready for market.
USNREL is also working on the other crucial battery issue for cars: heat. You probably don't want your car tooling along, only to burst into flame. If you do, just get yourself one of those hydrogen fuel cells and drive into a stone wall somewhere. Only kidding, fuel cell folks...