Massachusetts-based A123Systems has petitioned the U.S. government for $1.84 billion in direct loans to help build a new $2.3-billion state-of-the-art facility in Southeast Michigan that would manufacturer advanced Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries. If approved, this funding would be drawn from monies already allocated to the Department of Energy's Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Program. According to A123Systems, with the additional capacity of this new plant, the firm would be in a position to supply batteries for five million hybrid vehicles or half a million plug-in electric vehicles per year by 2013.
Originally established out of the research labs at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, A123Systems was established in 2001 using a $100,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. Since then, it has become a leader in the high-tech battery arena on the strength of its proprietary nanoscale electrode technology and currently lists AES, BAE Systems, Black and Decker, Cessna, Chrysler LLC, General Motors, Project Better Place, and Th!nk among its most prominent customers. The company's Li-ion battery packs are now found in 19 different hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) and electric vehicles (EVs) around the world.
David Vieau, A123Systems president and chief executive officer, sees the new facility as having a major positive impact on both the state of Michigan and the U.S. economy in general. "We're entering an exciting new phase for the automotive industry where we increase the electrification of vehicles, reducing consumption of gasoline through advanced batteries. This new facility would greatly accelerate this change and help ensure that the American economy replaces its dependence on foreign oil with reliance on advanced, homegrown batteries."