updated 11:45 am EST, Fri December 12, 2008
Intel car batteries?
Chipmaker Intel may get into the battery making business for plug-in electric cars, if the company's former chief executive, Andrew Grove gets his way, according to a Friday WSJ report (membership required). Grove, 72, retired in 2005 but still advises Intel and is urging the current chief executive, Paul Otellini, to diversify the company's business by manufacturing batteries for the auto industry. Grove is a hybrid car proponent and sees it as an emerging market. He believes Intel's large research and development resources could bring down the costs of batteries, which are the most costly component of a plug-in vehicle.
Getting into the battery-making business would definitely be a new departure for Intel, and the chipmaker is keeping mum about the possibility, pointing out Intel has invested in battery-related companies through its Intel Capital unit but cannot comment about any further involvement at this time.
Automakers are being pressured to build more efficient vehicles, including image-building plug-in hybrids, by the US government and certain public groups, with the Chevrolet Volt expected to be the first mass-produced plug-in hybrid when it launches sometime in 2011. GM is working with US-based A123 Systems on supplying batteries for the Volt, but is also working with a Korean company. A move to plug-in hybrids by other manufacturers could see demand for batteries in the hundreds of thousands, with Chinese and Japanese companies best prepared to handle such demand, Grove warns.