The Big Oil-Electric Vehicle Connection

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Neal Dikeman

For those of you interested in the sector under the sector in electric vehicles, the guts of Li Ion battery technology, the week just got more interesting than an overpriced, over hyped Tesla (TSLA) IPO.

Check out a very quiet unnanouncement in A123’s SEC filings noting a multi-year supply deal with ConocoPhillips’ Cpreme, the emerging leader in anode materials for Li On batteries.  The technology is a processing technology to make high performance graphite based powders out of plain old petroleum coke materials, that has the potential to be very low cost at scale.  A123 has announced supply deals in the past with Navistar, Fisker, Eaton, Think, the Chevrolet Volt and a number of others.

For those interested in the guts of the Cpreme technology, a good summary is here.  And a quick search of the patents includes: 7,618,678, 7,597,999, 7,323,120.

It wasn’t too long ago when the only other contender for Tier 1 battery supplier in the US, Johnson Controls-Saft, was announcing their Cleantech Innovation Award win and DOE award with a Cpreme logo quietly slipped into the presentation, though likewise no announcements were ever made.  Johnson-Controls-Saft had announced lithium ion supply wins with Ford, Mercedes, and BMW.  Maybe the liberal view is right, cleantech can bring manufacturing and green jobs back to the US – courtesy of our oil companies?

Or perhaps we should note that Tesla has announced it’s buying its batteries from Panasonic in Japan – with our DOE money (about half of its total capital!) and California tax breaks.  So maybe we’ll just ship the new cleantech manufacturing jobs to Japan instead.

Neal Dikeman is a partner at Jane Capital Partners LLC, the Chairman of Carbonflow and, and a long time cleantech advocate and blogger on