A123 Systems Suing Apple, Ex-Employee For Poaching Engineers

Apple may or may not be building a car to battle Tesla, but the tech giant is in trouble with A123 Systems for poaching the latter’s employees.

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Fisker May Follow A123 To China

Reports by Bloomberg suggest that Fisker could sell up to an 85 percent stake to Chinese automaker Dongfeng. The automaker apparently bid $350 million for the beleaguered plug-in car maker, according to sources close to the company.

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A123 Wants to Void Contract With Fisker, Fisker Says That Would Disrupt "Ongoing Business"

While Johnson Controls and China’s Wanxiang Group have competing bids to acquire the assets of advanced battery maker and Fisker supplier A123, a more serious battle is occurring in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware between the startup automaker and what is arguably its most important vendor. A123 wants the bankruptcy judge to void its contracts including those for supplying batteries to Fisker. That could stop production of Fisker’s only car, the Karma.

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A123 Files For Bankruptcy, Johnson Controls To Take Over

Reuters reports that battery maker A123 Systems is filing to bankruptcy protection in Delaware.

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A123 Systems Recalling Battery Packs Used In Fisker Karma, Other Cars

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.

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Geely Plug-In To Use Same Battery Supplier As Fisker

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.

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Another Plugin Problem: A123 Warns Of "Potential Safety Issue" With Fisker Karma Battery

In the ramp-up to the launch of the Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf, a great debate seized the engineering community: was Nissan opening itself to problems by not including a active thermal management system for the Leaf’s battery pack, or was Chevrolet’s liquid-cooled approach simply adding unnecessary complexity? Well, thus far, the verdict seems to be in Nissan’s favor. Though Leaf has been troubled by some dissatisfaction with its real-world range, the Volt has endurd the first technical semi-scandal of the plug-in era, when federal regulators found that ruptured coolant lines could cause fires. Now the liquid-cooled approach is hitting its second challenge, as Fisker’s battery supplier A123 Systems is warning in a letter [ PDF] that

some of the battery packs we produce for Fisker Automotive could have a potential safety issue relating to the battery cooling system.

Ruh-roh!

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Chrysler Cancels Hybrid Ram, Approves Fiat 500 EV For Production

In the leadup to its bailouts and bankruptcy, Chrysler seemed to have suddenly gotten religion about zero-emissions technology, parading around several ENVI electric vehicle prototypes. By the time Fiat had cleared the cobwebs from new product development in Auburn Hills, the EV vaporware had faded into nothingness. With the need to impress politicians ostensibly in Chrysler’s past, the ENVI program was rolled into Chrysler’s normal product development process, and we no longer had to choke back laughter at the idea that Chrysler would replace its unloved Sebring with the pure-electric 200C concept. Chrysler’s embarrassing Two-Mode hybrids were also hidden from view, with only a vague indication that a hybrid Ram might someday become available. When we talked to Ram CEO Fred Diaz at last November’s Five Year Plan announcement, he said that a hybrid Ram was still being considered. Now, egmcartech reports that the Ram hybrid is dead from a commercial standpoint, and that the program will turn into a plug-in hybrid test fleet for Chrysler’s best partner: The Department of Energy, which gave the form $48m to develop a fleet of 140 plug-in Rams. But don’t worry consumers, there’s an alt-energy Chrysler in your future… sort of.

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Tesla IPO in the Works?

Reuters reports that Tesla is planning an Initial Public Offering, after postponing planned IPOs in 2008 and 2009. Tesla reportedly hopes to capitalize on the recent success of battery developer A123 Systems, on the assumption that the A123 IPO has raised interest in electric auto firms. According to one of Reuters’ sources, Tesla’s IPO filing could be made “within days.” And the Silicon Valley startup, which currently has only one product, the $100k+ Tesla Roadster, will most likely have to hurry. Both Nissan and General Motors plan to enter the electric car market this year, marking the initial entries by established auto OEMs into the American EV market. Both of their initial products, the estimated $30k Nissan Leaf and the estimated $40k Chevrolet Volt, will cost considerably less than Tesla’s estimated $50k Model S sedan and will beat it to market by at least a year. Acquiring funding after cheaper competing models go on sale could be extremely challenging for a boutique automaker like Tesla.

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  • Sgeffe Bronco looks with JLR “reliability!”What’s not to like?!
  • FreedMike Back in the '70s, the one thing keeping consumers from buying more Datsuns was styling - these guys were bringing over some of the ugliest product imaginable. Remember the F10? As hard as I try to blot that rolling aberration from my memory, it comes back. So the name change to Nissan made sense, and happened right as they started bringing over good-looking product (like the Maxima that will be featured in this series). They made a pretty clean break.
  • Flowerplough Liability - Autonomous vehicles must be programmed to make life-ending decisions, and who wants to risk that? Hit the moose or dive into the steep grassy ditch? Ram the sudden pile up that is occurring mere feet in front of the bumper or scan the oncoming lane and swing left? Ram the rogue machine that suddenly swung into my lane, head on, or hop up onto the sidewalk and maybe bump a pedestrian? With no driver involved, Ford/Volkswagen or GM or whomever will bear full responsibility and, in America, be ambulance-chaser sued into bankruptcy and extinction in well under a decade. Or maybe the yuge corporations will get special, good-faith, immunity laws, nation-wide? Yeah, that's the ticket.
  • FreedMike It's not that consumers wouldn't want this tech in theory - I think they would. Honestly, the idea of a car that can take over the truly tedious driving stuff that drives me bonkers - like sitting in traffic - appeals to me. But there's no way I'd put my property and my life in the hands of tech that's clearly not ready for prime time, and neither would the majority of other drivers. If they want this tech to sell, they need to get it right.
  • TitaniumZ Of course they are starting to "sour" on the idea. That's what happens when cars start to drive better than people. Humanpilots mostly suck and make bad decisions.