China-based Wanxiang Group bought A123's assets for about $257 million in January after the buyout was approved by the US government and concerns that US battery-technology trade secrets would be leaked to China were overruled. A123, whose customers include General Motors, BMW and China-based SAIC Motor Corp., had received about $249 million in US Department of Energy grant funding. Even so, the company filed for Chapter 11 protection in October 2012, citing lower-than-expected sales from companies such as extended-range plug-in vehicle maker Fisker Automotive (which was also blaming A123). That company hasn't produced a car in more than a year.
US-based Johnson Controls was expected to be the lead bidder for A123's assets last year, though Wanxiang eventually won out. Wanxiang generates about $1 billion a year in revenue selling parts to Ford and General Motors, and has invested in about two-dozen US companies, a Congressional report says.