Ener1, Inc., the parent of EnerDel, maker of lithium-ion batteries, has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Japan-based ITOCHU Corporation, a highly diversified global trading company that leads the world market in distribution of specialized equipment and materials needed to produce lithium-ion battery cells. ITOCHU is a long-term strategic partner of and current investor in Ener1.
The purpose of the MOU is to define the parties’ relationship with respect to the introduction of Ener1’s products into the Japanese marketplace. ITOCHU, which has strategic partnerships and equity ownership in the Japanese automotive manufacturing community, will serve as Ener1’s Japanese sales, marketing and development partner for both the Japanese automotive OEMs as well as the Japanese Tier One suppliers.
The agreement also sets the stage for ITOCHU to introduce Ener1’s batteries as an energy storage solution to the solar power markets, where ITOCHU is aggressively seeking to develop its business.
Ener1 is currently the only company with the capacity to produce large-format automotive lithium-ion batteries on a commercial scale in the US, and currently has the manufacturing footprint in place to produce enough batteries each year to store 1.17 megawatt hours of electricity, with plans that could potentially expand that output to 3.12 megawatt hours annually.
The MOU contemplates ITOCHU’s possible extension of an equipment line of credit to Ener1 to fund this anticipated expansion.
Solidifying this partnership opens up new market opportunities for our battery technology in and beyond the automotive sector at a time when we are ready to commence volume production. We also feel privileged to have ITOCHU representing Ener1 in the sales and marketing of our cells, modules and battery packs to the Asian auto manufacturers and Tier One supply community. We believe that this will open doors for our US supply of batteries as well as bolster our growing international manufacturing presence.—Charles Gassenheimer, Ener1 Chairman and CEO