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Monday, January 30, 2012

Customers standing by Ener1 [video]

Battery maker Ener1 may be going through bankruptcy proceedings, but automakers working with the firm’s subsidiary, EnderDel, aren’t abandoning the company just yet.

Indiana-based EnerDel, which was the recipient of a $118 million private investment-matched grant from the Department of Energy to develop batteries for electric cars, is proceeding with business as usual and at least two of its high-profile customers say that they don’t expect to be adversely affected in the short term.

Volvo, which is owned by Chinese automaker Geely, is currently operating a test fleet of approximately 250 electric C30 compact cars that use batteries built by EnerDel. The vehicles are being evaluated in real-world situations around Europe with an eye on developing a production version of the car.

A Volvo spokesperson at the automaker’s headquarters in Sweden said that the company plans to continue working with EnerDel on the next generation of the vehicle and is not seeking a new supplier. He does note that the electric drive technology is flexible enough to allow a switch if one becomes necessary.

At the 2012 Detroit Auto Show, Volvo unveiled a plug-in hybrid version of its XC60 crossover that uses a battery pack supplied by South Korea’s LG Chem, the same company that provides the cells used by the Chevrolet Volt.

In the United States, the president of Lightning Motorcycles, Richard Hatfield, says the California-based company is moving forward with a production version of its all-electric superbike using EnerDel technology. Hatfield says he has discussed the matter with Ener1 and that he has confidence in the company’s plan for recapitalization.

A prototype of the $38,000 two-wheeler powered by an EnerDel pack set an electric motorcycle top speed record of 215.9 mph last October at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. The production version uses an air-cooled 11 killowatt-hour pack that is capable of delivering up to 150 miles per charge and goes on sale this quarter.

While Hatfield expects to sell only about 50 of the high-performance superbikes annually, this spring he is introducing a commuter-focused model with a range of 50-100 and a price between $8,000-$12,000. He hopes to manufacture several thousand units of the lower-priced model per year.

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