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A123 Systems announced the grand opening of its 291,000 square-foot battery research, development and production plant in Livonia, MI today. The factory's vast size makes it, the company claims, "the largest lithium-ion automotive battery production facility in North America." That is, based on readily available data. The new plant will expand A123's battery manufacturing capabilities by up to 600 MWh per year and brings the company close to achieving its goal of reaching a final cell assembly c

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Nissan Leaf battery pack - Click above for high-res image gallery

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EnerDel Inc. announced plans to open li-ion battery plants in both China and Europe in an effort to triple its battery production by the end of 2011 and meet the expected demand of new partnerships. Though the company currently holds deals with just two automakers (Think and Volvo), it plans to announce two additional customers by the end of the year, one hailing from Europe and the other from Asia.

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After supplying batteries for the record-breaking Mira EV (pictured), Sanyo had little choice but to follow it up with something big. So that's just what they did. This time around, the project is more about future plans than 300-plus mile journeys, but the goal is still quite monumental. Sanyo will invest $2.1 billion to ramp up li-ion production for hybrid and electric vehicles in anticipation of reaching mass production levels by 2012.

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Battery breakthroughs seem to pop up almost every day. There's always a new idea, different material or unique design that makes the battery better. Some manufacturers make outlandish claims that can't be true while other companies string us out for years awaiting amazing products. This time around, Hitachi makes a bold claim for its breakthrough-tech, but it's believable and has already been put through preliminary tests.

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Electric vehicle batteries don't last forever. Sure, they can be charged up, drained and charged again, but at some point they just won't get the job done anymore. Automakers estimate that advanced batteries will provide about ten years of serviceable life in vehicles. So what happens to that hunk of lithium in your vehicle after it's retired from the intended duties? It gets a second chance in one of several industries lining up to spring new life into that old battery.

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During one of the sessions at the Electric Drive Transportation Association meeting here alongside the Washington Auto Show, our friend Felix Kramer from CalCars got an answer to a question that's been on his mind for a while: just how much will large-format lithium-ion batteries cost in five or ten years?

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2011 Chevy Volt - Click above for high-res image gallery

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2010 Toyota Prius - Click above for high-res image gallery

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2010 Mercury Milan Hybrid - Click above for high-res image gallery

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GoinGreen, the UK distributor of Reva's G-Wiz, has announced prices and specifications of the tiny quadricycle with upgraded lithium ion batteries. The good news: the new model has a range of up to 75 miles, up from 48 in the older, non-li-ion version. Both models sport a 51 mph top speed, but the new lithium-powered version costs almost twice as much as the standard one: base prices start at £15,795 and £7,995, respectively. The li-ion version will also be available with an optional

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click above image for a high-resolution gallery of the plug-in Prius

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