Well, the WSJ (editorial page) says that giant GM is going with the lithium-ion battery for its new upcoming line of plugin hybrid cars. Too bad for NiMax batteries (heading for oblivion?) and Stempel's prior ties and contacts within GM!
I wonder what more ENER could have done to salvage the situation, but knowing ENER's management, my impression is that any effort on their part fell far short of what we mistreated stockholders are entitled to expect.
The United States today uses 8% of the world�s annual production of lithium. Although the exact figures are proprietary it seems clear that the U.S. is now a net importer of lithium.
There is today no viable way to recycle economically the lithium from current production lithium-ion batteries, which use some high value metals in their manufacturing that add to the recovered value significantly.
The hopes of the car companies in America are on a lithium-iron system, which today has less likelihood of commercial recycling than the previous lithium technology.
Every pound of lithium used to make the battery pack for a hybrid or an all-electric vehicle, if the total of 1 million vehicles per year by 2010 now promised by U.S. based car makers is produced, nearly doubles the total annual usage of lithium for all purposes in the U.S.
If all of the global OEM industry goes to lithium battery technology for its hybrids and electrics then every pound used by just the non-ICE powered cars now promised to be made by 2010 will use up more than 10% of the world�s annual production of lithium.
There is no substitute for lithium in the near term if the first mass production of hybrids and all electric battery powered cars are to meet their time tables for production and their promised performance characteristics.
My guess is that when the American OEM automotive industry executives figure that out they will be investing a lot more than $15 million with lithium producers to increase production as rapidly as possible and guarantee that they are not squeezed out by competitors through off-takes. I think this is already under way, but that the �lithium supply crisis� will only be recognized by Wall Street in 2007.