General Electric Ups its Investment in A123Systems
Electronics giant GE Corp has placed another major bet on the future of Lithium-ion battery maker A123Systems with an additional $30 million cash outlay that brings its total underwriting position to $55 million. That stake, made via GE's Commercial Finance - Equity and Energy Financial Services branches, gives GE nine-percent ownership in the Watertown, Massachusetts-based firm and makes it A123Systems' single largest shareholder. In addition to the extra funding, A123Systems will be able to draw on the knowledge base and technical development expertise of GE Global Research as it moves ahead on programs to further prefect and refine its line of advanced Nanophosphate Li-ion batteries for automotive applications.
Already the recipient of substantial funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, A123Systems is involved with a number of automakers around the world to develop its proprietary strain of high-density/low-mass Li-ion power cells for use in 19 different hybrid and plug-in electric vehicles. Designed using special nanoscale materials originally created by a team at MIT, A123Systems claims its long-lived rechargeable battery packs also have the advantage of being less costly to produce than their conventional Li-ion counterparts and far less prone to suffer from overheating problems. In addition to its wide-ranging automotive programs, A123Systems currently supplies Li-ion batteries to various other commercial operations, including toolmaker Black & Decker and Cessna Aviation.
GE's sixth and latest investment in A123Systems represents another step in its ongoing "ecomagination" program, an undertaking begun in 2005 that will see the organization provide a total of $1.4 billion in new seed capital to explore innovative approaches to greener technology research by the end of this year. According to Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt, GE remains committed to its goal of raising that annual outlay to $1.5 billion by 2010 as part of its comprehensive world-wide business plan. "Cleaner innovation and technology resonate in this marketplace. GE will help build tomorrow's smart energy grid; help drive electric vehicles out of the labs and onto the world's roadways; and work to build advanced, cleaner energy production in the U.S., India, China, and the Middle East at mammoth scale."