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After years of effort, Boston Power's lithium-ion Swing Power cells will finally find a home inside a Saab chassis. In a roundabout sort of way.

China-based GSR Ventures led a $125-million investment round for Massachusetts firm Boston-Power, a startup that designs and manufacturers application-specific lithium-ion batteries, mainly for automotive applications. To date, Boston-Power has raised some $320 million since its founding in 2005. Boston-Power says it now plans to shift its focus to activities in China and will use the money to build a manufacturing facility there by the end of 2012.

As we've touched upon before, it's often wise to turn to suppliers if you're searching for an accurate prediction regarding the future of the automotive industry. Why? Because suppliers must get ready for a changing industry and be prepared to deliver products as needed. If suppliers don't have the production capacity to meet demand, then automakers may have to temporarily halt plans, shift to in-house production or delay a vehicle's launch until supply can catch up.

While they've been doing quite well selling their Sonata laptop batteries, Boston Power would really like to get their automotive market mojo rising since, so far, they've only managed to get their lithium Swing cells into an all-electric ZE Saab 9-3, the product of a small consortium that includes the troubled Swedish automaker. Clearly the company has more ambition than that and so, to attract the consideration they crave, they've gone out and persuaded someone with serious credentials to sit

ZE Saab 9-3 - Click above to view the video after the jump

The battery makers vying for dollars from the Department of Energy's (DOE) Electric Drive Vehicle Battery & Component Manufacturing Initiative just got a little more competition. Boston Power has announced plans to build an advanced lithium ion battery plant in Massachusetts and is seeking $100 million in help from the program. The planned 455,000 sq ft site would increase the company's workforce by 600 and create as many as 2,000 indirect positions in the supply chain. The company expanded

It looks like Boston Power will try to do for electric vehicles what it did for laptops. The company developed the Sonata brand which recharges faster, packs more energy and last longer than "regular" laptop batteries. They are also safer. CEO Christina Lampe-Onnerud, founder of the young company, is also a battery researcher and re-engineered the laptop powerpack to take advantage of efficiency gains from re-sizing and re-shaping the individual cells, upgrading materials and eliminating paralle