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Obama Praises Opening of New Michigan-Based Lithium Ion Battery Plant

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On: Wed, Sep 15, 2010 at 3:18PM | By: Sherry Christiansen


Obama Praises Opening of New Michigan-Based  Lithium Ion Battery Plant

A company named “A123 Systems Inc.” opened a brand new plant in Michigan with the intent of manufacturing the lithium-ion batteries planned for distribution to supply the impending wave of new electric vehicles.

President Barack Obama said the plant is “central to the next generation of cars.”  The Obama administration has been pushing for new battery technology to charge electric vehicles through its stimulus plan that was developed in 2009.

“This is about the birth of an entire new industry in America," Obama said. Presently the lithium-ion battery market is dominated (approximately 98%) by Asian companies, and the Michigan-based plant is the largest lithium-ion battery plant in the U.S., encompassing over 290,000 square feet. The plant will represent the largest presence that the U.S. has in the market. The United States would like to break into the market share by holding at least 40% by the year 2015.

Agreements have already been signed between A123 Systems and automakers such as Fisker automotive, Navistar Inc., and Modec LTD in joint venture with Navistar-Modec EV Alliance.

Predictions for the future sale of electric vehicles ranges from a conservative figure of around 2 million units per year to as many as 9 million units annually by the year 2020, partially due to increased government incentives.

A123 has received $238 million in incentives thus far, and will explore alternative energy sources as well as producing the lithium-ion batteries.

It looks as though the country may see an emergence of a completely new era in the automotive market, with big companies such as Ford Motor Company, General Motors, and Nissan all preparing to launch new electric vehicles. Although the company lost its contract to make batteries for the Chevy Volt, the partnership may be re-connected with the launch of the next generation Volt, according to Automotive News.com.

According to Micky Bly, GM spokesperson, “This is the thing that will pull the U.S. auto industry out of the last few years.”

Other great news regarding the opening of the Michigan-based lithium-ion battery company is that 300 (half of which were unemployed) employees have already been hired, with a goal to employ another 3,000 by the year 2012.

A123 realized $391 million during the company’s IPO last year. A portion of the money from the initial public offering will match funds from the U.S. Department of energy of $250 million that was granted to A123 for production of lithium-ion batteries.




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