Battery Manufacturer Opens New Facility in Michigan

Company says it is the largest lithium-ion battery production plant in North America.

A123 Systems Inc., a Watertown, Mass.-based manufacturer of lithium-ion batteries, today announced the grand opening of a 291,000-square-foot battery production facility in Livonia, Mich.

The company said it is the largest lithium-ion automotive battery production facility in North America.

The opening of the Livonia factory comes a year after A123 was awarded a $249 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The company also received $125 million in state incentives from Michigan.

"The opening of our Livonia facility is a significant milestone and confirms that we are accomplishing our stated objectives that accompanied the DOE grant," said David Vieau, president and CEO of A123 Systems. "Bringing this factory online in just over a year is a testament to our technology innovation and strategic plan to ramp up manufacturing, but it also speaks to the maturity of the market-without significant customer demand for our products today, a capacity expansion of this magnitude would not be possible."

Vieau added that the company expects to create thousands of jobs in Michigan over the next several years.

A123 said it will manufacturer prismatic cells and systems at the new 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, according to the company.

The new plant is expected to expand A123's manufacturing capabilities by up to 600 megawatt-hours per year when fully operational, contributing to the company's plan to expand global final cell assembly capacity to more than 760 megawatt-hours annually by the end of 2011.

'Advanced Battery Capital of the World'

A123 said it also plans to open a coating plant in Romulus, Mich., expected to come online during the first half of 2011.

"When I signed Michigan's first-in-the-nation battery tax credits into law, it signaled my administration's intent to make our state the advanced battery capital of the world," Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm said. "This set the stage for the tremendous collaboration between A123, the Department of Energy, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and state officials that led to this state-of-the-art battery manufacturing facility in Livonia. We applaud A123 for selecting Michigan as the center of its U.S. manufacturing, creating new jobs and helping diversify our economy."

Founded in 2001, A123 Systems' proprietary nano-scale electrode technology is built on initial developments from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A123's list of customers includes BAE, Eaton, Fisker, Navistar, Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. and other global automakers and heavy-duty vehicle manufacturers, according to the company.

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