Battery Industry Updates: Takeaways from NAATBatt 2024 and new Center for Automotive Research findings

Batteries, energy capacity, workforce, supply chain and advanced manufacturing were key topics of the 15th annual NAATBatt conference held recently in California. Hosted by NAATBatt International, the trade association for advanced battery technology in North America, the conference brings together top industry executives, scientists and investors to discuss the latest developments in the advanced battery manufacturing industry.

We sat down with our Senior Director of Industry Development Jordan Isaacs to talk about his experience at the show last month and hear some of his key takeaways.

Q: What did you enjoy best about NAATBatt this year?

A: NAATBatt is a smaller conference with less than 1,000 people attending compared to large trade shows like The Battery Show or the Consumer Electronics Show which each bring tens of thousands. This smaller setting provided more opportunities to have intimate discussions with companies and individuals that are driving both the strategic and tactical growth of the industry.

Q: What impression did attendees have about Indiana’s advanced industries?

A: I was impressed by the number of Indiana-based companies or companies with Indiana operations attending like ReElement Technologies, Cirba Solutions-Heritage Group and Photon Automation, to name a few. Several other large corporations with footprints in Indiana like General Motors, Stellantis, Honda and others also were in attendance.

Several attendees that are battery industry veterans spent time working in Indiana’s automotive industry throughout Central and East Central Indiana in the 1980s-1990s and had awareness and excitement about the state’s focus on the advanced battery ecosystem. Most importantly, everyone was aware of and had very positive remarks about the Battery Innovation Center (BIC) located in Southern Indiana. The BIC played a prominent role in the conference and was part of a panel focused on developing the battery workforce in North America. Dave Roberts from Indiana-based Applied Research Institute (ARI) led a discussion on filling the gaps in the Lithium Battery Supply Chain via the Li-Bridge Initiative.

Overall, Indiana industry was relevant and engaged in the discussions at NAATBatt.

Q: If you could share one big takeaway from the conference, what would it be?

A: Opportunity in the electrified economy.  The advanced battery technology industry is growing in North America with an entire industrial base being shaped and developed to meet the market demands of today and tomorrow, with demand being driven by federal government policies, national security imperatives and consumer demands. A couple of the primary challenges are and will continue to be building out the value chain and aligning power generation, as well as upskilling and reskilling the workforce to meet the growth demands of this sector. Indiana’s advantage lies in the decades long relationships with major manufacturers, as well as our geographic location positioned in the industrial Midwest, Battery Belt and proximity to OEM’s.

Speaking of the battery industry, the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) recently released a new report titled “Examining Workforce Needs for North America: Battery Industry Education and Training Needs Assessment (BIETN).” This report covers the need for a strong battery workforce due to increasing global demand, industry hiring estimates, recommendations for the future and so much more.

You can view and download the report on CAR’s website, here.