A123 Systems will be replacing battery packs built at their Livonia, Michigan plant that contain prismatic cells – the same type used in the Fisker Karma. The recall is estimated to cost A123 about $55 million. The defective batteries are linked to the recent problems experienced by Fisker Karma owners, according to A123 CEO David Vieau.
Just weeks before Chrysler filed for bankruptcy last year, it announced a battery partnership with A123 Systems, which would have provided Lithium-ion batteries for Chrysler’s ENVI lineup of EV vapor. Needless to say, the ENVI program disappeared after bankruptcy, but A123 stuck around and was rewarded with the supply contract for Chrysler’s only prospective EV project, th Fiat 500 EV. Now, the Freep reports that A123 has withdrawn from the Fiat 500 EV project, and its CEO tells Bloomberg that
a competing vendor had been willing to take the business at a lower price and that the program had been “significantly diminished.”
It’s not clear if A123 was upset with a reduction in planned Fiat 500 EV volume, or if the partnership’s downgrade from a “full line” of ENVI EVs to the 500 EV project represented the unwanted volume reduction. In any case, Chrysler CEO still planns on selling 56k EVs per year by 2014, and it’s strange that A123 would give up that long-term volume opportunity. But, according to A123, another automaker has more serious plans to grow EV volume, and A123 will be concentrating on that partnership. What program is that? Where does this leave the Fiat 500 EV? Is A123 in even more trouble than Chrysler? As usual with EV programs, there are more questions here than answers…
Battery firm Ener1/EnerDel, which recently brought the EV firm Th!ink back from bankruptcy, has lost the battery contract for Fisker’s Karma luxury EV. According to Schaeffersresearch, Ener1 “decided it would be better pursuing higher-volume battery supply deals when larger automakers begin rolling out their versions of electric cars.” Says Ener1 CEO Charles Gassenheimer, “we have some capacity constraints on our side. We’re interested in high volume programs in the future.” The public story is that due to Ener1′s Th!nk tie-up, Fisker’s October sales roll-out was too much, too soon. The real story illustrates the complicated relationships emerging between EV firms and battery suppliers.
After a two year neck-and-neck race between battery makers LG Chem and A123, GM awarded its Volt contract to Lucky Goldstar – make that LG Chem, or rather their subsidiary Compact Power: Now the Lucky Guys are waiting for the thing to hit the road in large quantities. A123 was widely regarded as the far better technology, the Koreans most likely were cheaper – we’ll most likely never know.
Now, A123 cut a possibly much bigger and more lucrative deal. A123 is forming a joint venture with China’s top carmaker SAIC to build and sell battery systems for electric vehicles in the world’s largest auto market, and possibly beyond.