LIVONIA — The Livonia-based battery manufacturer A123 Systems LLC Monday announced its plan to double global manufacturing capacity to 1.5 gigawatt-hours per year within the next three years, up from the current 750 megawatt hours per year.
The company operates manufacturing hubs in Michigan, as well as Hangzhou and Changzhou, China and the company says all three are now operating at capacity due to growth in demand. And the company says it’s expecting sales growth of 50 percent this year and is the midst of a $100 million capital expansion.
The company says it will increase production at its two Detroit-area plants from 3.3 million cells to 4.3 million. The expansion is being financed by A123’s owners, China’s Wanxiang Group.
The company said the new investment program of more than $200 million additional will be installed in phases over the next three years, with additional investments anticipated as target markets further develop.
The company also said the additional capacity is planned to support a variety of applications and new customer programs across the globe including low voltage hybrids, plug-in passenger vehicles and several commercial vehicle programs. These programs collectively draw upon A123’s expanding product portfolio which 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 Jason Forcier, CEO.
While A123 currently sees broad demand across its target markets, key new business wins have also validated the company’s strategy. In the field of low voltage hybrids, not only is the 12-volt starter battery product line continuing to expand but A123 has also received multiple production awards for 48-volt micro-hybrid applications. In China, the company is quickly capitalizing on the remarkable growth of plug-in vehicles in both the passenger vehicle and bus segments. These successes are driving additional R&D in high energy and power cell designs which will enter the market in the coming years.
Wanxiang bought A123 out of bankruptcy, which the company exited in 2013, The company’s focus has changed in recent years from large-capacity batteries for electric vehicles to smaller systems for mild hybrid-assist systems to boost the MPG of gasoline-powered vehicles.
The company has about 1,800 employees, 600 of whom are in Michigan.
More at www.a123systems.com