A123 Systems opened an advanced automotive battery factory in Michigan

Article by Christian Andrei, on September 14, 2010

A lithium ion battery plant owned by A123 Systems Inc. had recently opened. The plant aims to supply advanced technology for electric vehicles. The plant was described by President Barack Obama to be “central to the next generation of cars.”

During dedication ceremonies at the suburban Detroit plant, A123 Systems CEO David Vieau received a call from Obama. According to a transcript provided by the White House, the president talked about the “birth of an entire new industry in America -- an industry that's going to be central to the next generation of cars.”

At 291,000 square feet, this lithium ion battery plant is the largest in the US. The White House said that the plant would boost the nation's presence in battery manufacturing, which is currently dominated by Asian companies.

This year, A123 Systems has signed battery supply agreements with domestic and foreign automakers such as Fisker Automotive Inc., Navistar Inc. and Modec Ltd.'s joint venture Navistar-Modec EV Alliance.

The increase in government incentives is expected to boost the global market for electric and hybrid cars from about $31.9 million in 2009 to $21.8 billion by 2015. A123 has received $238 million in incentives from the state of Michigan. The company intends to continue to invest in alternative energy technologies.

The US has seen the beginning of a new era in car manufacturing with the upcoming launch of the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid and Nissan Motor Co.'s all-electric Leaf.

According to Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Asia currently dominates 98% of the advanced battery technology market. Meanwhile, the US aims to have 40% of the market by 2015. Micky Bly, a General Motors Co. spokesman, said, “This is the thing that will pull the US auto industry out of the last few years.” [via autonews - sub. required]

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