With US taxpayers facing the prospect of bailing out the US auto industry, which has been described by more than a few as populated by visionless management and a business culture hostile to innovation, can nanotechnology be used to finally bring some much needed technological advances into its product lines?
The long-time nanotechnology blogger Howard Lovy at Nanobot presents some possibilities for how nanotechnology is fueling innovation in the auto industry. While it is good to have Mr. Lovy blogging again, and he is certainly someone who is uniquely qualified to write on both nanotechnology and the auto industry, I am hard pressed to extend his optimism for the automobile to the innovative sensibilities of Detroit automakers.
In the Nanobot piece, Mr. Lovy points to the continued investment by GE into the battery maker A123Systems, which ''uses nanotechnology to produce rechargeable lithium-ion batteries,'' as another sign of ''nano powering the auto revolution''.
The problem is that the examples he cites in the article involve GE (while quite a large multi-national, it is not an automaker), A123Systems, and the all electric Tesla, the product of one man with a vision. All these companies are quite different than Detroit''s big three automakers.
Unfortunately, if the US government provides another bailout (we can consider the $25 billion in loan guarantees already provided the equivalent of a bailout) to US automakers, we can likely count on the money NOT being spent on innovation but rather on ways to resist changing while staying in business.