Department of Energy

A123 Systems Moves From the Lab to the Assembly Line

August 15, 2011

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Recharging Michigan: A123 Systems

Investing in Detroit is paying off for A123 systems, a Boston based battery technology company. With the help of Recovery Act funding through the Department of Energy, they've been able to open two new factories, employ and retrain over 1000 area residents and propel the commercialization of next generation electric vehicles.

Last week, Secretary Chu announced $175 million in funding for 40 projects that promise to accelerate the development and deployment of next-generation vehicle technologies. The innovations being fostered through these projects often begin at a small scale, being tweaked and tested in laboratories or R+D centers as researchers attempt to hit critical benchmarks for deployment. The potential of these projects is sometimes hard to envision during this early stage, but last month Secretary Chu visited a company that embodies the impact these burgeoning breakthroughs could have on the economy and America’s role as a leader in advanced vehicle technologies.

A123 Technologies began as a chemistry breakthrough at MIT that allows for a significant increase in the storage capacity of lithium-ion batteries without any sacrifice to the performance or safety standards that consumers have for their vehicles. Thanks in part to a $249 million Recovery Act grant, the team at A123 has been able to translate that potential into a product -- opening up large factories in both Livonia, Michigan and the nearby city of Romulus to produce their advanced lithium-ion battery systems.

It was the recently opened Romulus facility that attracted the Secretary’s attention during his visit, as he toured the factory and spoke with some of the more than a thousand new employees that A123 has brought on to support their efforts – over half of which were previously out of work. After his visit, Secretary Chu took some time to share why he believes that A123 Systems can serve as a model for America to lead in advanced manufacturing. You can hear his thoughts, along with those of A123 CEO David Vieau, in the video above.