A123 Systems opens lithium-ion automotive battery plant in Michigan

RP news wires

A123 Systems, a developer and manufacturer of advanced Nanophosphate lithium-ion batteries and systems, on September 13 announced the grand opening of the largest lithium-ion automotive battery production facility in North America, based on available data. The new plant in Livonia, Mich. is expected to expand A123's manufacturing capabilities by up to 600 megawatt-hours per year when fully operational, contributing to the company's plan to expand global final cell assembly capacity to more than 760 megawatt-hours annually by the end of 2011. The opening of the Livonia factory comes just over one year after A123 was awarded a $249 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to help the company execute its strategy to ramp up U.S. manufacturing capabilities to meet increasing, market-driven demand for its 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. 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," said David Vieau, president and CEO of A123 Systems. "We are grateful to the DOE, the state of Michigan and everyone else who helped make this vision a reality. 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 U.S. emerge as a global leader in the production of advanced lithium-ion batteries."

A123 will focus on manufacturing prismatic cells and systems at the new 291,000-square-foot 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 U.S. manufacturing ramp up, A123 also plans to open a coating plant in Romulus, Mich., 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.

"When I signed Michigan's first-in-the-nation battery tax credits into law, it signaled my administration's intent to make our state the advanced battery capital of the world," said Michigan Governor Jennifer M. Granholm. "This set the stage for the tremendous collaboration between A123, the Department of Energy, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and state officials that led to this state-of-the-art battery manufacturing facility in Livonia. We applaud A123 for selecting Michigan as the center of its U.S. manufacturing, creating new jobs and helping diversify our economy."

A123's advanced lithium-ion batteries and systems are designed to help customers quickly and cost-effectively take game-changing solutions from conception to commercialization. A123 is the first major U.S.-based battery manufacturer to receive TS 16949 certification for its cylindrical lithium-ion cells for automotive applications, validating that the company's product design and manufacturing processes meet the highest standards for excellence in the automotive industry. A123's growing list of customers includes BAE, Eaton, Fisker, Navistar, Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) and other global automakers and heavy-duty vehicle manufacturers. The company's innovative technologies are also being implemented in a wide variety of commercial products, and the company has also delivered more than 20MW of its Smart Grid Stabilization Systems (SGSS) to customers worldwide, making A123 the world's largest producer of lithium-ion batteries for ancillary services for the power grid.

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