This brings a couple of thoughts to mind:
*While a better battery for vehicle propulsion is an excellent idea, unless the infrastructure of the utility industry is vastly improved, recharging these new batteries would be a no-go. Yes, a better battery is an excellent idea, but it is only a part of the picture, and the
total amount that would have to be spent on improving the generating capacity and the transmission lines of the electrical grid would be many times more expensive than just this incentive offered for an improved battery.
*There was, in fact, a government-sponsored effort, back in the late '70s, to come up with solutions to our dependence on oil from the Middle East. That was the Synthetic Fuels Corporation, a Federal think-tank/research laboratory in the Southeastern US. Jimmy Carter, while rightfully criticized as being one of our least effective presidents, did have the foresight to establish this effort during his administration.
However, the Reagan administration, in its zeal to eradicate all vestiges of the Carter administration, eliminated the budget line item that funded the Synthetic Fuels Corporation, and the labs were shut down after just a few years of existence.
Had our energy problems disappeared at that time? No, but apparently the Reagan administration felt that we did not need to develop any alternatives to petroleum that, at that time, came chiefly from the Middle East.
Researchers frequently take many years, perhaps decades, to come up with real solutions to a problem. Unfortunately, we will never know what the Synthetic Fuels Corporation could have produced, simply because the Reagan administration chose to end its work so quickly.