General Motors has contracted A123 Systems Inc., an emerging U.S. lithium-ion battery company founded in 2001, to supply "thousands to tens of thousands" battery packs for the automaker’s global vehicle program. The vehicle units are set to arrive in showrooms by 2013, according to Jason Forcier, who is vice president for the Automotive Solutions Group of A123.
He declined, however, to name the vehicles in the program and to reveal if these are hybrids or electrics.
A123 supplies the battery packs for the Fisker Karma, which is an electric vehicle launched in July. Moreover, the company produces large battery packs for electric delivery vehicle units produced by Navistar and Smith Electric Vehicles U.S. Corp.
According to Forcier, the development programs are under way with Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. and BMW AG. A hybrid or electric battery pack is an expensive and complicated system, often liquid-cooled, with computer controls and sensors to manage discharging and charging.
The battery packs for GM will be produced at A123's Livonia factory in Michigan. Forcier forecasts that the contract will eventually need to add hundreds of employees. However, he didn’t give specific details.
The company currently has around 3,000 employees. He further stated that the company’s lithium ion chemistry, which was developed at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, integrates long life and high energy density. The battery packs for Chevrolet Volt are manufactured by GM utilizing battery cells that LG Chem Power Inc. provided.