Lithium-ion battery-pack maker A123 Systems, whose customers include General Motors, Fisker and ALTe, reached an agreement to make battery packs for Via Motors, which next week will unveil what Via says will be the world's first extended-range plug-in pickup truck, SUV and van.

A123's 24-kilowatt hour battery pack will help give the Via trucks, called VTRUX, an all-electric driving range of as much as 40 miles before the truck's gas engine is engaged to provide another 360 miles or so on a full tank. Via's board of directors includes former General Motors Vice Chairman and Chevrolet Volt developer Bob Lutz, who will be unveiling the VTRUX at the Detroit Auto Show next week. Lutz joined Via's board in September.

A123 is hoping the agreement marks a turnaround of sorts for a company that's lately been beset by challenges. The company late last month said that some of the batteries it made for the Fisker Karma extended-range plug-in sports sedan may cause the extended-range plug-in to short circuit because improper alignment of the batteries' hose clamps may cause coolant leaks in "certain rare circumstances." In November, A123 laid off 125 workers at two Michigan plants because of Fisker's delays in launching sales of the Karma. That same month, A123 also cut its 2011 revenue forecast because of fewer-than-expected Karma orders. A123 reduced its 2011 sales forecast by $45 million to between $165 million and $180 million. The battery maker, which went public in September 2009, has reported losses every quarter since 2008.

Earlier last year, A123, which was founded by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) professors in 2001, won supply contracts with companies such as General Motors and ALTe, and was one of three-dozen companies tapped to receive about $3 million of the $175 million in U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) grants to be used to further develop vehicle technology aimed at boosting light-duty vehicle fuel economy by more than 75 percent by 2025.

Via is looking to start production next year and hit an annual target of 20,000 vehicles over the next few years. The company grew out of Raser Technologies, which first made a name for itself by converting a Hummer H3 to a plug-in hybrid.

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A123 Systems to Supply Advanced Lithium Ion Battery Packs to VIA Motors for Extended-Range Electric Trucks

A123's Proprietary Nanophosphate(R) Technology Designed to Deliver High Power and Increased Usable Energy to Maximize Performance and Enable up to 40 miles of All-Electric Range for VIA's eREV Trucks

WALTHAM, Mass., Jan. 5, 2012 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- A123 Systems (Nasdaq:AONE), a developer and manufacturer of advanced Nanophosphate®lithium ion batteries and systems, today announced that it will supply complete lithium ion battery packs to VIA Motors, an electric vehicle company building next-generation electrified trucks, vans and SUVs. To be integrated into VIA's Extended-Range Electric Vehicle (eREV) Powertrain, A123's 24kWh battery packs combine with a 300kW electric motor and an onboard generator to deliver an expected all-electric driving range of up to 40 miles.

"VIA plans to ramp up production significantly over the next three years to satisfy demand for clean, fuel-efficient full-size trucks and SUVs," said Kraig Higginson, CEO of VIA Motors. "We selected A123's Nanophosphate lithium ion battery systems because they are able to package higher power into a compact space in the vehicle."

VIA offers a full lineup of extended-range electric trucks, vans and SUVs called VTRUX, each equipped with the company's eREV Powertrain. In addition to supporting an expected all-electric range of about 40 miles, A123's lithium ion battery systems are also designed to provide exportable power capabilities that can be used externally. A123 has already begun producing the battery packs at its Livonia, Mich. facility as VIA has started delivering trucks to commercial fleet customers.

"We believe that the high power, greater usable energy and long life offered by our Nanophosphate lithium ion battery solutions will help VIA better position its eREV Powertrain platform as a cost-effective solution to maximize vehicle range and increase fuel economy," said Jason Forcier, vice president of A123's Automotive Solutions Group. "We think that commercial and government fleets represent a tremendous opportunity for vehicle electrification, and we look forward to working with VIA Motors to design eREV trucks, vans and SUVs that meet fleet customers' needs for efficient, environmentally friendly vehicles that also satisfy their performance, range and reliability requirements."

About A123 Systems

A123 Systems, Inc. (Nasdaq:AONE) is a leading developer and manufacturer of advanced lithium-ion batteries and energy storage systems for transportation, electric grid and commercial applications. The company's proprietary Nanophosphate® technology is built on novel nanoscale materials initially developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is designed to deliver high power and energy density, increased safety and extended life. A123 leverages breakthrough technology, high-quality manufacturing and expert systems integration capabilities to deliver innovative solutions that enable customers to bring next-generation products to market. For additional information please visit www.a123systems.com.



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 21 Comments
      HVH20
      • 3 Years Ago
      This falls under the category of I would love to own this vehicle as a daily driver if I could afford it. I'll add it to my wish list for when the economy turns around. A123 is never cheap, but they do have the best cell technology on the market by a factor of 2. When you have to carry 2 drivetrains around, weight is a major concern.
        brotherkenny4
        • 3 Years Ago
        @HVH20
        I don't know that you can say A123 has the best cell technology. They have the iron phosphate cathode which has some advantages (high current, thus higher power), but it's relatively low in energy vs. some of the new cathode materials. They claim it's safer too, but the only cathode that was really bad was cobalt oxide (used in computers and the tesla roadster). Again the newer cathodes are not bad on the safety front, and besides the safety issue is really only a scare tactic to slow down adoption. Everyone drive around in a car with a gas tank, and then get scared of batteries. That's insanity. Anyway, the A123 battery is a good choice for this vehicle though, since a truck needs power and a compact high energy battery is not needed. It's just that I wouldn't call their battery the best. It really depends on the specifics of the application. On a side note, does anyone know what the price is on this vehicle?
      EZEE
      • 3 Years Ago
      Tentative Review: :) Plug In :( Aero :( Light Weight :( Cheap (this is a tentative frowny face - but, I can't imagine it being cheap) :( Performance (again, tentative frowny face) 1 Happy Dan
        Letstakeawalk
        • 3 Years Ago
        @EZEE
        You're forgetting that he hates A123, so that makes the whole project worthless... Dan F is a troll of the very worst kind. A hateful, spiteful, pathetic cuss of a human.
          EVSUPERHERO
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          I am surprized LTAW, the force is strong in you. But Dan is a man of God! Dan says people get caught with their evil pants down!
          EZEE
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          I will let himself decide if that battery rates a :( or not. That would make greeting any :) rather difficult...
      Spec
      • 3 Years Ago
      It is nice to see any new EV venture. But I'm still very skeptical about all conversions these days. To built a good EV/PHEV, it really appears that you need to design it from the ground up as an EV/PHEV. It makes a difference due to where you can place the batteries, the weight of the components, aerodynamics, etc. EVs are just very different. They need to accommodate big heavy battery packs, they need to be aerodynamic, they need to be light. With a gas car, aerodynamics and weight are important only for MPG efficiency . . . but that is it. So you can be somewhat sloppy on that front and still be fine . . . just make the gas tank a little bigger. But with EVs, aerodynamics and weight are critical for 3 reasons: (1) efficiency, (2) range, (3) cost. It is those latter two that are the real critical aspect. Electricity is pretty cheap . . . but the problem is that batteries are expensive.
        EZEE
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Spec
        Hey Dan! See that last paragraph? :)
          EZEE
          • 3 Years Ago
          @EZEE
          Hey Dan (2) On another thread, I saw a post start, 'I don't want to sound like Dan, but....' The legend grows...
      Ele Truk
      • 3 Years Ago
      The comment about the A123 leak is inaccurate. All battery packs had already been dealt with before the story even hit the news: http://evworld.com/currents.cfm?jid=224 This story should be updated to reflect that. A123 and Fisker were proactive and the issue was remedied before the press blew it all out of proportion.
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 3 Years Ago
      Raser does vaporware. and yet a foolish vehicle to start with. adding electric drive to the embodiment of ignorance and thoughtlessness. might be as successful as selling coherence to a tea party member
        EZEE
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        We are $1.3 trillion in debt in a single year. The tea party says that might be too much, and maybe we should reduce that. You might disagree, but the concept is pretty coherent. (looks over at Europe collapsing). Yep...coherent.... @nick I have actually wondered that with current technology if larger vehicles might provide a more usable platform for electrics for precisely your reason...
        Nick
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        Trucks have plenty of open space under the bed for batteries. That makes it easier to convert than say a sedan or compact..
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 3 Years Ago
      and I'm afraid A123 can't be saved now. they are spending enormous sums and refusing sales.. best we can hope for is perhaps a takeover after bankruptcy with less unintelligent leadership. a smart automaker would start a copy production if there are no critical patents preventing it. and there probably aren't. or maybe a good licensing deal that would last past A123 bankruptcy. it seems to be the best overall chemistry. safe, decent energy density and very powerful. long life and no rare chemicals other than lithium.
        Letstakeawalk
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        Perhaps you forgot the link to the place where you can buy A123 batteries online? It's not the same place you posted previously, but these are other suppliers of A123 cells: http://www.a123rc.com/ A123 cells are widely available on the open market.
          Letstakeawalk
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Letstakeawalk
          A123 will also be supplying batteries to BMW for their upcoming hybrids.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Dan Frederiksen
        Yes, A123 really is a joke, much like the Karma. A123 invests 30 million in Fisker so they will use their batteries, WTF? Reminds me of the battery corp that invested in Think. The batteries are good the company is a joke. They better sell something soon or go bankrupt. LTAW, your link to A123 batteries for sale is a joke. Jack Rickard gets them from China for less than half that price. A123, a American corp, built out of the goodness of American taxpayer money and you must order their batteries from China to get the best deal, WTF? Yes all A123 say Made in America yet not one of them is, this company is a shameful excuse of a American corp if ever their was one. By the time Fisker is done he will wish he stayed with Tesla. Oh that's right he will file bankruptcy and be millions of dollars ahead off all that gubbamint money. How do these a holes at A123 get away with putting Made in America on their batteries when they clearly are not.
      paulwesterberg
      • 3 Years Ago
      if 24kWh = 40 miles and a kWh costs 12 cents then it would cost $2.88 to go 40 miles. Current gas prices is 3.35 per gallon so on a cost basis this is equivalent to 46.5mpg when running on electric power. Not too shabby for an overweight, un-aerodynamic truck.
        paulwesterberg
        • 3 Years Ago
        @paulwesterberg
        On the other hand a conventional truck like this might get 20mpg so that means this truck could save 2 gallons of fuel per day. Using a gas price of $4 per gallon or $8 -$2.88 = 5.12 per day or a savings of 1,868.80 per year if driven daily. If you use off peak power(.065/kwh) to charge it then the daily electric cost would be only $1.56 and daily savings would be $6.44 and yearly savings would be 2,350. It could save more money if gas prices go above $4 per gallon. Also having the electric motors to capture regenerative braking energy will reduce brake repair costs and should help boost mileage in extended range mode to 25mpg. It seems that this technology could be save owners money in the long run if the cost of the hybrid system was 10 grand or less.
          Nick
          • 3 Years Ago
          @paulwesterberg
          @paulwesterberg Depends on the usage really. A contractor might not drive more than 40 miles a day, ever, this eliminating gas purchases entirely, in which case the savings could be much greater. I hope this tech makes it into production vehicles sometime, but I am a bit dubious at the 20,000 unit / year goal.
      JP
      • 3 Years Ago
      What exactly is an "Extended range plug in"? Oh yes, it's called a hybrid, with similar range as other hybrids, and ICE's. Just call it a plug in hybrid, since that's what it is.
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