China BAK Battery, Inc., one of the largest lithium-ion battery cell manufacturers as measured by production output, has begun to execute a contract with Jilin Hi-tech Electric Vehicle Co., Ltd, an affiliated company of First Automobile Group Co., Ltd, one of the largest automobile manufacturers in China, to provide high-power lithium-phosphate batteries for use in its Electric Bus Project. The contract, worth approximately US$1 million, aims to provide battery packs and battery management systems for 20 electric buses.
This is our first order for batteries for electric buses. It represents customers’ confidence in our products, and is a new and significant stage in China BAK’s product development. With significant government subsidies, we believe electric buses have the biggest potential in the foreseeable electric vehicle industry in China, and we are well prepared to grasp that opportunity.
—Xiangqian Li, CEO of China BAK
In December 2008, China’s Ministry of Science and Technology selected China BAK’s “Electric Vehicles Lithium-phosphate Power Battery Industrialization Project” as a key project of the National High Technology Research and Development Program (863 Program), with associated funding. China BAK said then at it aimed to commercialize the production of high-power lithium-phosphate cells for use in light electric vehicles and hybrid electric vehicles. (Earlier post.)
The 863 Program was launched in March 1986 by the PRC’ss central government as a national strategic development program to optimize and upgrade China’s hi-tech development in the key fields of IT, biology, energy, agriculture, pharmaceutical, new material, manufacturing and automation, as well as resource and environment.
China BAK began commercial production of lithium-phosphate cells at its Shenzhen facility for use in cordless power tools in October 2005, and for mining lamps in March 2007. In December 2006, its new subsidiary, BAK International (Tianjin) Limited, was incorporated to focus on the R&D, manufacturing and distribution of lithium-phosphate cells. (In February 2006, China BAK Battery formed a contract manufacturing partnership with A123Systems. Earlier post).
China BAK has since shifted all lithium-phosphate cell manufacturing machinery, equipment and personnel from its Shenzhen facility to its Tianjin facility. In October 2008, its Tianjin facility completed construction of its first lithium-phosphate cell production line, and initiated trial production of lithium-phosphate cells.