Even before selling its first all-electric sedan, Coda Automotive has spun out a subsidiary looking to take its battery technology in a new direction.
The newly created Coda Energy will leverage the company’s expertise in designing automotive battery systems and apply it to the grid energy storage market. Coda Energy hopes to carve out a niche in the burgeoning market for lithium batteries that will be used to support utilities, renewable power, and microgrids.
Coda is hardly alone in this move. Many battery companies that originally targeted the automotive market (e.g., A123 Systems and Ener1) have widened their focus to include the grid storage market.
With its origin as an automaker Coda is unique, but the company has built up several battery assets that it will use to pursue grid opportunities. The company’s batteries are produced in China through a joint venture with China’s Lishen Power Battery, and Coda acquired battery management systems company Energy CS in September of 2011. This expertise in building complete battery systems can be applied to either market, although there are important distinctions (customers, regulatory requirements, etc.) that Pike Research will be exploring in an upcoming webinar.
Though sales from lithium ion battery makers to the transportation industry are expected to be more than four times greater than to the grid services market ($14.6 billion and $3.5 billion, respectively, in 2017), having a secondary battery market is essential to producing batteries in volume and for competing with other similarly diversified companies.
Diversifying the battery customer base is a credible strategy for a young company, but dividing the company’s attention even before the first sedans are sold (cars are due to ship in February) could give the impression that the Coda is hedging its bets on becoming a serious contender in the EV world.
Coda is also hoping to build batteries packs in Ohio, but it has been waiting for a loan from the Department of Energy. Approval for that loan would face intense political scrutiny as many of the clean tech companies that have received loans have been in Republican crosshairs since the Solyndra debacle.
Most recently, on January 26, 2012 DOE loan recipient and lithium ion battery maker Ener1 filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and the political blowback occurred almost immediately. However, as PluginCars.com pointed out, state and Federal and state financial support started during the Bush Administration, and was championed by Indiana’s Republican governor Mitch Daniels, who is featured in an Ener1 promotional video.
Tags: Advanced Batteries, Clean Transportation, Electric Vehicles, Smart Transportation Practice
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