back to article Grove: Intel should make electric car batteries

Intel's former chairman and chief executive officer, Andy Grove, is, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal today, bending the ear of the current top brass at the chip company to make batteries for electric powered cars. There's a volume market with relatively small research, development, and manufacturing retooling …


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  1. Monty Cantsin

    Quit with the "carbon"

    "The world needs a new way to get around that doesn't produce so much carbon."

    What is with this use of the word "carbon"? It's *carbon dioxide*. They're two completely different substances.

    Do you ask for a "refreshing glass of hydrogen" when you want water?

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Perhaps they should make cars too while they're at it

    Because before too much longer there's a pretty high probability there won't be any US car companies doing that.

  3. Stuart Gray

    Produces less carbon?

    The only way a car running on battery power can move whilst producing less carbon is if it is powered by a nuclear power station. Assuming it lasts long enough to compensate for the extra carbon required to make the batteries, that is.

  4. Martin Lyne

    Re:Perhaps they should make cars too ..

    Why sad face? They all look the same anyway. Maybe if they started making old Mustangs again people might buy them.

    Cars all seem to look the same as they did during the X-Files, where they all looked the same too.

    Guess GM shouldn't have scrapped their EV1s, ha!

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Quit with the "carbon"

    Having just sat in traffic behind an old diesel van, I can honestly say that both are right.

    I get your point, though- the media really do need to add on the "Dioxide". I mean we're carbon-based, right? As is the rest of Mother Earth. So to get rid of all this pesky carbon, we'd have to fission ourselves down into dead chunks of beryllium or some such.

    I think the problem is that "Carbon Dioxide" isn't really a snappy name. Just like "5,000PSI tanks of explosive gas" sounds a lot less dangerous than "Hydrogen economy".

    Plus, to get about in a "carbon-free" way we just need a whole heap of breeder reactors and a few electrodes dipped in the sea. Then build an internal combustion engine powered on Hydrogen. That way, you've got the noise aspect covered (get a nice V8 engine note going) as well as getting round the problems of lacking R&D in fuel cells.

    Oh aye, and actually build some of these vehicles rather than having endless concepts!

  6. YumDogfood

    Dodge this!

    Forget batteries, I think we need a new grid. An overhead grid. No more heavy batteries, just a lekky' motor and some cable on a stick. It would power street lighting and no more underground cables - power & data over grid everywhere (and nice Faraday shielding from all that satellite TV and alien signals). No more unlit streets, just a hat with a lamp lamp and an extensible probe on the top to tap the power (don't bend down though).


    How about trying to do with LESS power? Have the foresight to go without tying ourselves to yet another limited resource.

  7. IGnatius T Foobar

    CO2 not a problem

    Since there is no correlation between fossil fuels, CO2, and "global warming" ... there is no need to build a car that "produces less carbon."

    I'm more interested in a car that doesn't require funding terrorists in order to fill the tank.

  8. The Badger

    Strategy vs. technology

    The author confuses issues of strategy with those of technology. One reason why Itanium wasn't successful can also be observed in the case of IBM expecting people to switch from their original PC architecture to that employed in the PS/2 line of products: adopting a potentially superior technology might make sense from a purely technical perspective, but one also has to consider other issues, notably whether the customer and vendors feel locked-in, whether you're really committed to such products (using the best production technology, offering the best performance per watt...), and these are all errors of strategy, not technology or the ability to deliver technically. Moreover, there will be turf wars in any company where an existing product line is being de-emphasized in favour of another, unproven one.

    Indeed, Intel has been fairly good at delivering improved technology in production, at least compared with certain competitors, and it's this ability that is worth assessing in the light of Intel moving into other fields of endeavour. Some non-Intel fabrication plants have apparently been repurposed for solar panel production, and it would be interesting to hear what the overlap in expertise is between these two kinds of development and manufacturing.

    In short, citing Itanium and other strategic (or even product management) failures as the basis for a critique of Grove's suggestions seems to have led to a somewhat shallow analysis, since those failures were largely due to deficiencies in Intel deciding what it *wanted* to do, not deficiencies in what it was technically *able* to do.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I couldn't disagree more...

    Sony used to make tellys, and walkmans.

    Imagined if they hadn't entered the console market with similar thoughts...

    Battery technology clearly has someway to go. Intel has a lot of expertise in making things small, and working with different materials. They're not exactly cash short, why stick all their eggs in one basket with the processor market, on which margins must fall year on year, and who's to say another manufacturer won't spring a suprise technology which could make Intels technologys obselete over night.

    Electric cars though pah.

  10. David Cherry

    re Monty Cantsin

    no I ask for a glass of Dihydrogen Monoxide

  11. Charlie van Becelaere

    So does this make

    Andy a verified batt-tard?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Batteries & Fuel Cells

    Grove should be talking more about Hydrogen based fuel cells.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They're all hydrogen based fuels...

    Hydrocarbon... hydrogen and carbon, all the carbon does (really) is make the hydrogen easier to deal with.

    CH4 Natural Gas

    C3H8 Propane

    C2H6 Ethane

    C8H18. Gasoline

  14. Rob McDougall


    All of this is completely pointless unless all of the major governments start investing LARGE amounts of money into renewable power generation.

    Also - did anybody stop and think that maybe having a car all to ones self is a luxury too far?

  15. Jim

    Nuclear is carbon free, honest! (yawn)

    Any advantage in lifetime CO2 generated over a fossil fuel plant is marginal. Maybe an IFR could improve the situation... if one existed... and they actually managed to get anywhere near the 1.3 breeding ratio.

    "Just like "5,000PSI tanks of explosive gas" sounds a lot less dangerous than "Hydrogen economy"."

    Are you sure?

    "How about trying to do with LESS power? Have the foresight to go without tying ourselves to yet another limited resource."


    You sir are a cretin that obviously believes that we should all return to living in caves. Do you not realise that it is my [insert deity of choice] given right to use as much energy (and other resources) as I deem necessary, irrespective of the impact it may have on others and their ability to do likewise.


    "C8H18. Gasoline"

    Back to organic chemistry 101 for you. C8H18 is octane. Gasoline/Petrol is a blend that may or may not contain octane though is usually rated by octane equivalence (RON/MON).

  16. Charles Manning

    No money in cars?

    Well not the way the lame US car makers try making them.

    The Japanese car makers in USA use more US-made content than US cars (which use a large % of compenentry made all over the world).... or in other words those Japanese car makers are more American than the American car makers.

    The Japanese car makers make far more efficient vehicles.

    The Japanese car makers can still make a profit.

  17. Francis Vaughan

    Its about the silicon

    "'CH4 Natural Gas...." and coal is????

    It isn't as if the hydrogen is the only part of the fuel that reacts. The fraction of the world's energy use that is coal based is stupifying. The amount of energy available in coal reserves even more so. In many ways it is the other way around. Adding hydrogen to the carbon makes it more useful, because we can move it about in liquid form. You can run a jet turbine on coal dust, but it isn't pretty. Most other small scale engines really need a liquid or a gas. On the other hand, the specific energy of oil is about 30% higher than coal. So you do carry a bit more energy around when you add the hydrogen.

    Something that is interesting about Intel. People tend to focus on the x86. But they are a silicon company. In many ways they could not care what they etch onto the wafer, just so long as it is their wafer you buy. Keeping a lead in design of processors is only one of many tactics they use to keep people buying their silicon. The main tactic is their fabrication process. Intel invest as much, if not more, in their silicon fabrication processes than they do in designing the circuits. Remeber it is this side of things that resulted in Moore's law in the firsrt place. Not the design of the circuits.

    Depite all the rubbishing of the IA64, one cannot help but observe that the x86 is technically quite dead. There have been, for all intents, no speed improvments in some years. Moore's law for a monoprocessor x86 shrank away from about 2004. Many many cores of x86 may or may not work out. So don't dismiss the IA64.

    Not that any of this says that Intel should go anywhere near batteries. Not unless they have some amazing secret up their sleeve. Diversity is important, and I would be nervous about the continued growth of selling silicon. But once you step outside of your own area of expertise you are just as dumb as anyone else.

  18. reader

    not really hydrogen based fuels

    Enthalpy of formation:

    CO2 = 393.7 kJ/mol

    H2O = 285.8 kJ/mol

    The hydrocarbon doesn't have to get very big before the majority of the energy of combustion comes from the C + O2 --> CO2

  19. weirdcult
    Thumb Down

    Jim, Jim, Jim

    it is not your [insert deity of choice] given right to use as much energy (and other resources) as you deem necessary, irrespective of the impact it may have on others and their ability to do likewise, you just can, if you can.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Also - did anybody stop and think that maybe having a car all to ones self is a luxury too far?

    Not to me it isn't

  21. bob

    @ Monty Cantsin

    not all co2- large amounts of co and other carbon based chemicals

    one big tent of carbon works well enough for the dimwits

  22. Tom Witkin

    Intel Inside your car?

    It’s not clear that science and technology analogous to what drives Moore’s law could enable the same success in the chemistry and manufacturing of car batteries. And, the business process behind getting semiconductors designed into a car, then producing and delivering them, strikes me as quite different from what it takes to establish the relationship between a car company and a firm making batteries that provide the fundamental umph behind the vehicles.

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