Just days ago, SB LiMotive announced that it struck a deal with Fiat to become the sole lithium-ion battery supplier for the electrified version of the automaker's pint-sized 500 hatchback. SB LiMotive, a joint venture between South Korea-based Samsung SDI and Germany-based Bosch, was handed an exclusive contract to develop the electric Fiat 500's battery pack, but there is more to the story and meets the eye.
Back in August, the Detroit News reported that Massachusetts-based A123 Systems backed out of a deal that would've had it supplying batteries for the electric 500. At the time, A123 chief executive officer David Vieau stated that the company was withdrawing from the agreement because an unnamed supplier had stepped in with an offer to produce battery packs for Fiat "below current market price." In addition, A123 Systems stated that the scale of the 500 electric project had shrunk and was no longer of interest to the battery maker.
The battery-powered Fiat 500 is scheduled to debut stateside in 2012. At this time, the production volume of the 500 is still up in the air, but a project so small its of no use to a battery maker leaves us wondering. SB LiMotive intends to manufacture cells for the 500 in South Korea, develop the battery pack in Michigan and carry out final assembly in Ohio.