A123 Systems Opens Li-ion Automotive Battery Manufacturing Plant in Michigan

A123 Systems announced the grand opening of the largest lithium ion automotive battery production facility in North America, which it calls the largest, based on available data. The new plant in Livonia, Mich. is expected to expand A123’s manufacturing capabilities by up to 600 MWh per year when fully operational, contributing to the company’s plan to expand global final cell assembly capacity to more than 760 MWh 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 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 its innovative technologies.

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 US 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.

A123’s customer list includes BAE, Eaton, Fisker, Navistar, Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) and other global automakers and heavy-duty vehicle manufacturers. The company has also delivered more than 20MW of its Smart Grid Stabilization Systems (SGSS) to customers worldwide, making it currently the largest producer of lithium ion batteries for ancillary services for the power grid, according to the company.

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