Just last week we found out that lithium ion battery maker A123 Systems had filed the first batch of paperwork required for it to make an initial public stock sale
. Having tried to read through a few of these kinds of filings in the past, we took a pass this time around. Fortunately our friends at GreenTechMedia waded into these waters and noticed some interesting items. Since companies have to disclose all sorts of information about risks and benefits they face when going public, A123 discussed sales. Until now, A123's biggest customer has been Black and Decker, although A123 also has two separate development contracts with General Motors
for the Saturn VUE
PHEV and something called the Volt. The S-1 filling only mentions reduced revenue from its most significant customer without explaining which of the two companies that is. This could mean a number of things. It could mean that A123 is on the losing end of one or both of the GM
production contracts which would definitely be a bad thing for A123. The other and perhaps more likely possibility is Black and Decker. Black and Decker uses A123 batteries in its premium DeWalt line of power-tools. DeWalt tools are more commonly used by contractors and other professionals while general consumers typically opt for the cheaper Black and Decker brand. The same collapse of the housing market that has killed sales of full-size pickup trucks over the past year could be having an impact here. If new homes aren't being built, contractors don't need new tools to put in the new trucks they aren't buying either. A123 can't really say anything specific right now because of the legally mandated quiet period, but GM should be making an announcement in the next few months about the Volt battery supplier. Thanks to Rick for the tip!