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Thursday, March 11, 2010

A123 Systems to make batteries for Navistar electric trucks

Battery technology company A123 Systems Inc. will be making its lithium ion battery systems for electric vehicles for truck company Navistar International Corp. under a new deal that will provide the batteries to a joint venture between Illinois-based Navistar and British company Modec Inc.

Financial details of the deal were not disclosed, but the companies did state that the batteries for the joint venture — called the Navistar Modec Electric Vehicle Alliance — will be made in A123’s new facility in Livonia, Mich., planned to open this month.

Watertown’s A123 will create and manufacture the battery systems for Navistar’s EV, which will be a completely new truck design, instead of converting an existing, conventional fossil fuel powered truck. Alliance officials say the Navistar EV can possibly cut greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 10 tons annually, when compared to an equivalent diesel-powered truck. The new electric truck is scheduled for launch in mid-2010. Using A123’s battery pack, the truck will be able to run approximately 100 miles on electricity before needing to be recharged.

In August of 2009, A123 Systems landed $249.1 million in U.S. Department of Energy funding to construct the Michigan manufacturing plant to build and package batteries for electric vehicles. In September, the company went public in a $378 million IPO, at an offering price of $13.50 per share, well above the initial projection of a range of $9 to $9.50. In December, A123 finalized a deal with the U.S. Department of Energy for another $250 million, this time a construction loan, for the new plant.

With nearly 1,700 employees, A123 Systems lost $22.8 million on the third quarter of 2009, on revenue of $23.6 million.

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