A123 Systems hosted an opening ceremony Monday for what it says will be the largest factory for manufacturing electric vehicle batteries in North America.
Workers at the plant in Livonia, Mich., will make battery components, including prismatic lithium-ion cells, and do final assembly of battery packs. A123 projects that the plant will add 600 megawatts-hours worth of battery production the first year and will ramp up to 760 megawatts hours by the end of 2011.
The opening, attended by Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, is part of a bid to bring large-scale battery manufacturing to the U.S. In addition to state incentives, A123 last year received a $249 million grant from the Department of Energy designed to establish electric vehicle battery manufacturing in the U.S.
A123 is building the factory in anticipation of demand from automakers moving into electric vehicles. "Without significant customer demand for our products today, a capacity expansion of this magnitude would not be possible," A123 CEO David Vieau said in a statement.
The company, which was originally spun out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has signed deals with a handful of auto and truck makers, including Fisker Automotive, BAE, Eaton, Navistar, and Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp., or SAIC.