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U.S. launches new project ($120M) to develop electric-vehicle batteries

(Reuters) – The Obama administration launched a fresh $120-million research project Friday, aimed at developing cheaper batteries for electric vehicles, a sector that has faltered despite billions of dollars of prior government investment.

The Energy Department will dole out the money over five years to establish a research hub for batteries and energy storage, backed by five national laboratories, five Midwestern universities and four private firms.

The four companies joining the project are Dow Chemical Co, Applied Materials Inc, Johnson Controls Inc and Clean Energy Trust.

During the Obama administration’s first term, jump-starting advanced battery manufacturing was a major national initiative, which saw the Energy Department plow $2 billion of grants into 29 battery makers to build or update plants.

But the industry was hobbled by overcapacity, limp demand for electric vehicles and high-profile bankruptcies, including the collapse of government-backed battery maker A123.


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