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First Stimulus-funded Batteries Roll Off Assembly Lines

Sep 14, 2010
The United States government has talked about introducing more hybrid and electric vehicles for years. Now the dream is becoming a reality.

“The first wave of mass-produced advanced batteries funded by the Obama administration's economic recovery program are starting to roll off assembly lines,” says The Boston Globe. “[Thus] setting the stage for new hybrid and electric vehicles.”

“With new facilities coming online in the Midwest, battery manufacturers for the advanced vehicles are providing a test case for the government's attempt to revive the economy,” The Boston Globe continues.

Michigan-based A123 Systems, Inc. produced the first batteries, and the manufacture hopes to open a second facility in Romulus, Mich. Next year.

The “plant opening was made possible by a $249 million Recovery Act advanced battery grant the company received last August, an award the company matched dollar-for-dollar with private capital,” the White House elaborates in a release. “A123 Systems has hired 250 workers for the Livonia, MI plant since receiving the award and has signed contracts with Navistar and Fisker to supply advanced batteries for their electric vehicles.”

On Monday, President Obama called A123 systems from the Oval Office to congratulate the company for opening the nation’s first plant for mass-producing electric vehicle batteries. “This is important not just because of what you guys are doing at your plant, but all across America, because this is about the birth of an entire new industry in America -- an industry that's going to be central to the next generation of cars,” President Obama states, according to a transcript of the call. “t’s going to allow us to start exporting those cars, making them comfortable, convenient and affordable. It helps our manufacturing industry to thrive, and with it, that means our communities and our states and our country are going to thrive.”

The U.S. Department of Energy confirms the President’s statement, saying “the A123 Systems battery plant is expected to create 3,000 jobs in Michigan by 2012 and help to establish the U.S. as a global leader in the manufacturing of electric vehicles.”

Despite this progress, the Associated Press says these are risky and expensive goals. First, the batteries are very pricey. With the $2.4 billion stimulus program, batteries will cost $33,000 and have a 100-mile range. The government hopes to decrease battery costs to $10,000 by 2015. Second, hybrid and electric vehicles comprise only a small portion of new car sales, and companies like Nissan and Chevrolet are just introducing their electric cars within the next few months, indicating that this technology is not an integrated part of American life.

In an interview with The Boston Globe, President of Total Battery Consulting Menahem Anderman shared these concerns: "The rapid buildup of production capacity by companies with limited experience for product with challenging market may prove wasteful.” It’s possible that by 2013 or 2014 the plants will be profitable and running at full capacity, but Anderman predicts “that scenario is pretty unlikely.”

LINK: First Stimulus-funded Batteries Roll Off Assembly Lines - U.S. News Rankings and Reviews
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