Since battery-maker A123 was acquired by China’s Wanxiang Group, it has shifted its focus to concentrate on starter batteries, and has big plans to produce batteries for microhybrids, aka start-stop systems. The company recently announced a plan to double global manufacturing capacity to 1.5 GWh within the next three years.
A123 operates manufacturing hubs in the state of Michigan, as well as in the Chinese cities of Hangzhou and Changzhou. The company says all three are now operating at capacity due to considerable growth in demand. In the midst of a $100-million capital expansion across its manufacturing network, A123 recognized that the existing investment plan must be substantially expanded to satisfy stronger market demand than originally expected. The company currently forecasts growth of more than 50% this year.
The new investment of more than $200 million will be made in phases over the next three years, with additional investments anticipated as target markets develop further. The added capacity is planned to support a variety of applications and new customer programs, including low-voltage hybrids, plug-in passenger vehicles, and several commercial vehicle programs. A123’s expanding product portfolio offers multiple lithium-ion chemistries and cell designs optimized for different applications. “The strength of A123 has never been greater and we are honored to be expanding our existing customer relationships and establishing new ones at the same time,” said CEO Jason Forcier.