Intel Inside Your Electric Car?

What a paradigm shift!  Technology companies making electric vehicles, EV.

The gist, you’ve heard about the rumors that Intel is thinking about getting into the alternative automobile business.  How serious is it?  Maybe the question should be seen in light of the latest automobile paradigm shift, how technology companies got into the “new” alternative automobile industry.  Or maybe we should see this as a normal evolution that good, old steel and metal bender car makers need to become technological companies.  So who has the better chance?  Will the technology start-ups that have had great innovations make it as key automobile players for tomorrow, or will the old boys’ club become technology players?

Decisions, Decisions.  On the one hand you have the mainstream car makers, most of which have about 100 year’s worth of experience.  However, the experience is around bending metal and molding them to burn gas.  They also have to take care of their growing retired force.  On the other, the new contenders are fresh thinkers outside the box.  Techies and silicon valley chip and software makers who once asked: “Why can’t I have a cool electric car?”  Thus, the Tesla Roadster revolution.  They don’t need to mold metal to create complex gasoline burning cycle engines, they just need to create complex software to make the batteries deliver enough energy to an electric engine.

The Crossovers.  And then there are the crossovers. Those fed up with traditional gas engine technology who saw the light, or the electricity of the future, the Alan Cocconi of AC Propulsion who prove beyond any doubts that EV outperform traditional cars.

So would Intel start to make batteries for EVs be such a stretch?  Intel has been designing computer chips for decades.  What makes them likely to produce batteries?  Controllers would be easier but it seems Intel gets that the U.S. desperately needs to have reliable, massively produced batteries locally.  A123 Systems has great technology, but the Volt issue asks if they will they make enough, fast enough for a massively produced car?  That’s why GM has turned its attention to LG Chem who has a lesser battery but can crank out the packs faster.  Dilemmas, dilemmas.

BusinessWeek sees it this way, former Intel chairman and plug-in advocate Andy Grove has been touting EVs and apparently advising the company to move into the EV battery market.  Intel has stealthily moved closer to the EV battery market by investing in battery, energy storage, and alternative energy companies.

Financially speaking, Intel has enough funds with $38.33 billion generated in revenue last year and spent $5.76 billion, 15% on R&D.

So if Intel pulls through and brings back that local manufacturing of tomorrow’s energy storage capability back home, it would answer the plea from companies, such as Tesla complaining that the cost of importing batteries drives up manufacturing costs.  Cheaper Roadster… the stuff dreams are made of…  It’s definitely worth while considering even if times are hard, in the past, successful companies have acted in the strangest times.

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