By on March 15, 2012

Geely has chosen their battery technology partner for their new plug-in hybrid vehicle, and their supplier, A123 Systems Inc., may not be a familiar name to everyone, but their wares have been used by other vehicles like the Fisker Karma.

Advanced Traction Battery Systems, A123’s Chinese joint venture partner, will supply batteries for the Geely plug-in. The car is expected to go on sale in 2014. No word on whether A123 will play a role in future development of Volvo’s plug-in hybrids. A123’s stock price has fluctuated wildly over the last year or so, and recent news of Fisker battery problems (not to mention this article from the end of 2011) hasn’t helped the Mass.-based battery maker’s fortunes.

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8 Comments on “Geely Plug-In To Use Same Battery Supplier As Fisker...”

  • avatar

    Guilt by association doesn’t work here.

    The question is how much of a role A123 plays in each of these carmaker’s battery pack development.

    As part of my job, I design lithium ion battery packs (small ones) for use in our products. They are manufactured by a supplier who is licensed to handle lithium ion cells, and who has manufacturing expertise related to spot welding, soldering, gluing, and so on. We rely on their expertise to some degree to help develop both the pack and (sometimes) its charger. However, this reliance has decreased over time, to the point that we know much more about battery pack design (as a business) than we did years ago, and can actually ‘shop’ a design around to several suppliers for quoting purposes.

    A123 is certainly playing a co-development role, but the Geely pack will be much different from other packs it produces, say for Fisker. The best way for A123 to protect its name would be to wrest control of the design away from its customers, and then the customers would also have ‘plausible deniability’ for battery problems.

    However, consumers don’t care about the subcontractor; they only care about the assembler (Fisker, Geely, etc.). The reasons my business doesn’t cede total design control to our pack supplier is a) intellectual property rights, and b) development costs. Both can get out of control if you just let the supplier design a pack for you with little input from you.

  • avatar

    I don’t envy EV/HEV automotive battery suppliers. All they need to do is come up with something that is reliable and durable, has high energy density, doesn’t take up too much space or weigh too much, isn’t too toxic, can perform in harsh environments and doesn’t cost too much. Piece of cake.
    Oh, and I still want my flying car – manual transmission and diesel, please.

  • avatar

    How long until we see universal battery packs that are expandable?

    • 0 avatar

      That will happen when you see ‘universal’ drivetrains used in all ICE-powered cars, meaning never.

      Variation in packaging for different models forces different form factors. Breaking the battery pack down into pluggable modules (like Legos) would greatly increase costs and reduce reliability.

      There is some interest in doing what you suggest – I think by Better Place – but consumer tastes will limit its viability.

      Tesla’s approach with the Roadster was to use the most common lithium ion form factor – the “18650” laptop cell, and figure out how to wire ~7000 of them together safely and cost-effectively. It was a brilliant scheme for a startup car company to use, because they didn’t have to invent a new lithium ion cell, which requires a ton of investment and isn’t very cost-effective. Using these little cells also made the packaging more flexible.

      The custom cells utilized by A123 and others are more cost-effective for higher sales volumes than the Tesla, but less flexible for packaging variations.

      A123 does offer power modules, but they’re really intended for applications where packaging is a secondary concern:

  • avatar

    A123 systems was offering plug-in conversion kits for Prii a few years ago, I think they were close to $13K installed. I know King County, Washington bought 13 of the kits (this was before A123 went public).

    I heard the upgrade was reliable, but the price was very steep due to the Lithium Ion batteries used.

  • avatar

    Why does this article about Geely have a picture of a Volvo on the byline?

    Cheap shot.

  • avatar

    Geely is one of those Chinese car-makers that seems to get it. Their interior quality and cars are a step above the regular Chinese market stuff, and they’re very aggressive in terms of design.

    Whether that’s enough… I don’t know. But a Geely EV will probably be a bit better than other Chinese-based EVs (CODA, ElectroVaya (dead?), Phoenix, ZAP…)

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