A123 Systems Opens Lithium Ion Auto Battery Plant
Nanophosphate lithium ion battery and systems developer and manufacturer A123 Systems has announced the opening of what it claims to be North America’s largest lithium ion automotive battery production facility. The grand opening of the plant in Livonia, Michigan was held on September 13, and A123 Systems says that when the facility is fully operational it will expand the company’s manufacturing capabilities by up to 600MW hours per year. The Livonia factory’s opening comes just over one year after A123 Systems was awarded a US$249 million grant from the US Department of Energy (DOE) as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to help the company execute its strategy to ramp up US manufacturing capabilities to meet increasing, market-driven demand for innovative technologies.
“The opening of our Livonia facility is a significant milestone and confirms that we are accomplishing our stated objectives that accompanied the DOE grant,” said David Vieau, president and CEO of A123 Systems. “Bringing this factory on line in just over a year is a testament to our technology innovation and strategic plan to ramp up manufacturing, but it also speaks to the maturity of the market –without significant customer demand for our products today, a capacity expansion of this magnitude would not be possible.”
“We are grateful to the DOE, the state of Michigan and everyone else who helped make this vision a reality,” Vieau added. “Over the next several years, we expect to create thousands of jobs in greater Detroit and plan to continue our expansion in the area as we do our part in helping the US emerge as a global leader in the production of advanced lithium ion batteries.”
A123 will focus on manufacturing prismatic cells and systems at the 27,000 square metre Livonia facility. The factory is designed to enable the complete production process, including research and development, manufacturing of high-value components, cell fabrication, module fabrication and the final assembly of complete battery packs ready for vehicle integration. As part of its continuing US manufacturing ramp up, A123 also plans to open a coating plant in Romulus, Michigan, expected to come on line during the first half of 2011. In addition to the DOE grant, the company received $125 million in state incentives from Michigan as part of its 21st Century Jobs Fund to help finance these manufacturing facilities.
A123 Systems says its lithium ion batteries and systems are designed to help customers “quickly and cost-effectively take game-changing solutions from conception to commercialisation.” The company also states it is the first major US-based battery manufacturer to receive TS 16949 certification for its cylindrical lithium ion cells for automotive applications, and its list of customers includes BAE, Eaton, Fisker, Navistar, Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) and other global automakers and heavy-duty vehicle manufacturers.