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LG Chem has won the battery contract to produce battery cells for the Chevy Volt. The lithium power cells, developed by LG subsidiary Compact Power, are similar to the cells shown here. While the cells are made overseas, GM will manufacture the battery packs domestically in Michigan.  (Source: EV World)
GM makes big battery announcements at NAIAS 2009

GM finally resolved its battery quandary, announcing at the North American International Auto Show this week that it was selecting Korean battery maker LG Chem's batteries for the first generation of Chevy Volt.  The decision puts to rest months of uncertainty between LG Chem and its competitor for the contract, a team of A123Systems Inc. of Massachusetts and German auto supplier Continental (formerly part of Siemens).  LG Chem is teamed with its Troy, MI-based subsidiary, Compact Power, which helped design the cells.

While the cells will be produced overseas, the Volt's battery packs will be assembled in Michigan.  The batteries will likely be produced in a retooled midsize facility.  As automotive assembly tooling is not very applicable to manufacturing the packs, they will likely need a freshly tooled line.  The tooling cost to GM to achieve a volume of hundreds of thousands of packs could be $1B USD or more, according to a conversation DailyTech had with GM representatives.

GM's representatives said the decision to pick LG Chem over A123 was simple business, and that GM will continue to support A123's growth and development, calling the company a key business partner.  According to these representatives, the key reason why A123 was not selected was the company's inability to hit mass-production scales by GM's 2010 launch date for the Chevy Volt.

Bob Lutz, GM's vocal vice chairman, stated, "A123 is still sort of a startup, they're still ramping up, and A123 has been specializing mostly in ...cylindrical cells, which are good with power tools and stuff. What we need here is prismatic, which is flat cells. And LG Chem is just farther along."

He continues, "And this is one of the things why we say, if we're serious about the electrification of the automobile, as part of the national energy policy we do need government support for advanced battery development, which of course Japan has... LG Chem has massive support from the Korean government in terms of a whole research campus was paid for by the Korean government because Korea recognizes that advanced battery technology is a key component of the country's competitiveness."

Prabhakar Patil, Compact Power's CEO, had no harsh words for his company's competitor, stating, "It's a business decision.  Some people try to make it into an emotional issue but it really isn't. It's driven by the volume.  The bigger question is actually infrastructure. The labor content in the cell is relatively low. So as a result, there is flexibility. But in order to make that kind of an investment, not only for LG Chem but for suppliers for materials, etcetera, that's a significant level of investment and therefore you need to have enough of a business proposition, sustainable business, and of course infrastructure."

He comments that the U.S. currently does not have the infrastructure necessary to support internal cell production, but is moving toward such a manufacturing base.  He comments, "That's something that is evolving and I have to give state of Michigan a lot of credit for what they are trying to do to support that.  That's something we continue to evaluate and when the time is right we are open."

Competitor A123 currently manufactures its lithium ion battery cells in China, but it has applied for federal grant money to build a plant in southeast Michigan.  It hopes that bringing its production to the U.S. and building a large capacity will help it win a next generation Chevy Volt battery contract.

Ultimately, much of the jobs resulting from GM's final battery plan will be created in the U.S. as one of the most intensive parts of manufacturing battery stacks, is assembling cells, their cooling equipment, and other necessary equipment together into a finished product.

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Is it just me?
By Raidin on 1/13/2009 6:04:04 PM , Rating: 5
Does anyone else wonder why one of the two battery manufacturers is simply called A123Systems, Inc.?

- "So what do we name our new company?"
- "Oh I dunno, how about BattTek?"
- "No, that makes us sound like we manufacture Batman's entire line of equipment."
- "Well, I'm out of ideas. How about we just call it A123... like my password."

RE: Is it just me?
By Motoman on 1/13/2009 6:08:59 PM , Rating: 2
...that's what I was thinking. Like "AAAA Bail Bonds"

RE: Is it just me?
By 67STANG on 1/13/2009 6:15:06 PM , Rating: 5
I had first heard of A123 Systems ( on the discovery channel. Some show about future technologies... forget the title. Seems like they have a pretty good battery tech. Probaby lost the contract to the fact that they are a start-up.

Anyhow, according to the website:

A123Systems owes its name to the Hamaker force constant which is used to calculate the attractive and repulsive forces between particles at nano dimensions, and which begins “A123...”

RE: Is it just me?
By Raidin on 1/13/2009 6:27:31 PM , Rating: 3
Ah, so that's it. Thank you. Good to know there really is a good reason behind the name.

Still like my explanation better, though.

RE: Is it just me?
By RamboZZo on 1/14/2009 4:58:27 PM , Rating: 2
If you work with power tools A123 is pretty well known. They were one of the first manufacturers to achieve lithium ion cells capable of high current discharge without blowing up. They've had an exclusive contract to supply DeWalt li-ion cordless power tools for years. They make the best li-ion cells for high current applications.

RE: Is it just me?
By codeThug on 1/13/2009 6:32:08 PM , Rating: 3
The absolute worst company name in existence:

RE: Is it just me?
By creathir on 1/13/2009 7:06:47 PM , Rating: 3
I actually think A123 is worse, though the explanation above at least makes it somewhat better...

What is wrong with Infragistics exactly? No worse than ComponentOne...

How about Adobe Systems? Or Macromedia?

*cough* Google *cough* (Which comes no where near explaing what it does, how it opperates, or anything regarding anything other than a semi reference to a very large number...)

Names are names. I do personally prefer when they are more creative than A123 or AAAA Bail Bonds (this is done by the way, so their name is first in the yellow pages... quite stupid if you ask me...) but a name is still a name.

- Creathir

RE: Is it just me?
By ebakke on 1/13/2009 11:15:55 PM , Rating: 2
*cough* Google *cough* (Which comes no where near explaing what it does, how it opperates, or anything regarding anything other than a semi reference to a very large number...)
Which is amusing, since their whole goal was to provide us with relevant results, not a large quantity of results.

RE: Is it just me?
By exanimas on 1/13/2009 11:58:11 PM , Rating: 3
They should've named it something cutting edge, like Cut Corp., or Edge Co. I know, Flancrest Enterprises! Doh.

RE: Is it just me?
By ianweck on 1/14/2009 6:06:16 PM , Rating: 2
Or Kramerica for you Seinfeld fans.

RE: Is it just me?
By Torched on 1/14/2009 10:37:10 AM , Rating: 2
Reminds me of how Microsoft was named. Bill Gates wanted the name to sound harmless so he picked a name that is small and squishy. Har.

RE: Is it just me?
By 67STANG on 1/13/2009 7:18:22 PM , Rating: 2
Hey now... I actually use their WPF suite for application development. It's not half bad... Not as good as Telerik's stuff, but still not bad.

RE: Is it just me?
By FuzionMonkey on 1/14/2009 1:24:44 AM , Rating: 2
RE: Is it just me?
By MrPoletski on 1/14/2009 4:20:06 AM , Rating: 2

RE: Is it just me?
By matt0401 on 1/14/2009 9:54:54 PM , Rating: 2
After having been warmed up by "Analtech", this one made me truly LOL.

RE: Is it just me?
By Kenny1234 on 1/13/2009 6:48:48 PM , Rating: 1
a123 is a type of battery cell

RE: Is it just me?
By foolsgambit11 on 1/13/2009 7:01:24 PM , Rating: 3
Yeah, there's double a, triple a, 123 a....

RE: Is it just me?
By Fenixgoon on 1/13/2009 9:51:37 PM , Rating: 5
well they could be 12345. that's the same combination i have on my luggage!

RE: Is it just me?
By ebakke on 1/13/2009 11:17:12 PM , Rating: 3
Do those seriously stop anyone? Why do they even include them why you buy the luggage? You could break the dang thing with a spoon.

RE: Is it just me?
By 67STANG on 1/13/2009 11:33:24 PM , Rating: 2
If I hadn't already posted, I'd give you +1 for the vague Spaceballs reference.

RE: Is it just me?
By therealnickdanger on 1/14/2009 8:06:43 AM , Rating: 1
She's gone from "suck" to "blow"!

RE: Is it just me?
By MrPoletski on 1/14/2009 4:19:08 AM , Rating: 2
- "No, that makes us sound like we manufacture Batman's entire line of equipment."

That's a bad thing?

“Then they pop up and say ‘Hello, surprise! Give us your money or we will shut you down!' Screw them. Seriously, screw them. You can quote me on that.” -- Newegg Chief Legal Officer Lee Cheng referencing patent trolls

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