SAIC Motor Corp. has tapped US startup A123 Systems Inc. to supply lithium-ion cells to be used in an electric vehicle that’s due in 2012. At Advanced Traction Battery Systems Co. (the companies' joint venture), cells made by A123will be integrated into battery packs for SAIC, China's largest domestic carmaker.
A123, which is part-owned by General Electric Co., released a statement that this electric car will have a 100-mile range on a single charge. However, Jason Forcier, vice president of A123's automotive group, didn’t reveal how many electric cars are planned.
In an interview last Monday, David Vieau, A123's CEO, didn’t indicate a specific number but he said that it is “significant” and won’t be “just 200 cars.” A123 had previously revealed plans to supply cells for SAIC's Roewe 750 hybrid and Roewe 550 plug-in hybrid sedans.
This is in line as well with its strategy to expand in China. The Chinese government is offering subsidies of up to 60,000 yuan ($9,000) to those who purchase plug-in hybrids and electric cars. This is being done to aid in the government’s goal to help reduce pollution and oil dependency.
"We are excited to be partnering with an industry leader such as SAIC Motor to pursue the expanding Chinese market for advanced lithium ion battery technology," said David Vieau, chief executive officer of A123 Systems. "As part of this partnership we look forward to building a team of outstanding employees to develop innovative battery technologies that we expect will be included in some of the highest quality hybrid and electric vehicles anywhere in the world."