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A123 Systems secures three production contracts for 12V Li-ion Engine Start Battery; eyeing micro-hybrid market

A123 Systems has secured production contracts for the company’s 12V Engine Start Battery (earlier post) with three leading European automakers, including McLaren Automotive for the MP4-12C and a major German OEM that will use the battery in a 2013 model year passenger vehicle.

A123’s Engine Start Battery is designed as a replacement for absorbent glass mat (AGM) and other lead acid batteries, providing a lighter-weight, longer-lasting solution for micro-hybrid functionality that enhances vehicle performance, improves fuel economy and lowers total cost of ownership. A123 is also developing next-generation designs that are intended to further reduce the cost of its Engine Start Battery to make it applicable to a wider range of vehicle applications.

The market for micro hybrids is growing rapidly, especially as automakers develop systems to help them meet higher government standards for fleet fuel efficiency. We believe that our lithium ion Engine Start Battery enables OEMs to maximize the performance and improve the fuel economy of their vehicles by providing a move advanced, lighter-weight and longer-lasting replacement for AGM lead acid batteries.

We are gaining significant momentum in this market through our production contracts with McLaren and two other major European automakers, and we believe that we’ll be able to further enhance our solution to enable additional automakers to cost-effectively deploy our Engine Start Battery across a wider range of passenger and commercial vehicles.

—Jason Forcier, vice president of the Automotive Solutions Group

According to Lux Research, the global market for micro-hybrids is projected to reach more than 39 million vehicles in 2017 and create a $6.9 billion market for energy storage devices. A123’s Engine Start Battery is designed as a drop-in replacement for AGM and other lead acid batteries, leveraging the company's automotive-class lithium ion cells to deliver a number of significant economic, performance and environmental benefits for passenger and commercial vehicle applications, including:

  • Greater Charge Acceptance Rate. A123’s lithium ion Engine Start Battery is designed with a greater charge acceptance rate than AGM lead acid, enabling it to charge up to 10 times more quickly and contributing to a fuel economy improvement of 50% or greater compared with lead acid as reported by customers.

  • Reduced Weight. A123’s Engine Start Battery weighs less than half of comparable lead acid batteries, helping to reduce vehicle emissions and enhance driving performance.

  • Extended Life. The extended calendar and cycle life inherent to A123’s Nanophosphate technology enable the micro hybrid to last at least twice as long as AGM lead acid batteries, resulting in minimal maintenance and lower total cost of ownership.

  • Minimal Environmental Impact. A123’s Engine Start Battery offers reduced total carbon emissions compared to lead acid and do not contain lead or any other hazardous materials. By replacing lead acid batteries with A123’s solutions, customers can reduce the environmental impact of their systems, helping its customers promote their green initiatives and sustainability goals.



The sooner a stake is driven through the heart of the use of lead in cars the better.
We can just about handle it in the developed world, although there are many injuries every year to people due to the weight of elad acid, burns with the sulphuric acid etc, but in the Third World it often does not get recycled properly and kills lots of people, particularly affecting children.
The lighter weight of lithium is handy too.

william g irwin

I have been waiting to see a cross section of standard battery sizes for retrofit into a range of vehicles from Ebikes/Escooters through golf carts and motor cycles, but I see a fairly steep price and cost/benefit hit still. I just bought a 36v replacement bat set for my Escooter for $100, and Li would have been many hundred $ if I could even find the right physical size. Too early yet in the maturity curve. Lots of potential!


This is really interesting from this standpoint. This may actually be a way of getting Lithium cells into the hands of consumers who are do-it-yourselfers. You know you can buy fairly good cheap PV cells for making your own panels, but so far, there is no really good source of lithium cells (other than really bad ones) made available to the general public. I think the argument goes that the do-it-yourselfer market is just too small, or that they liability issue is to onerous or that they don't want to be held to an implied warantee. I find that all to be bunk. I'd really like one of these companies to sell cells on the internet for 20% above cost and with a standard waiver of liability and warantee. Many people would buy $500 dollar or more in cells just to play around with them. And don't give me that "there to dangerous" crap. We sell gasoline to anyone that wants it, including children. Maybe it's just another example of why we should hate lawyers. They don't make us better or protect us, but they do make a lot of money and prevent freedom.


Interesting use and test bed for a rugged lithium battery.


Its a $300-$500 battery now, but if lasts 10-15 years then its a good deal.


That is an interesting marketing thought problem, sell a lead acid battery at $100 every 5 years or a $300 advanced battery every 15 years. I bet people would still buy lead acid.


They would.  It makes a lot of sense to have the extra $200 in your pocket for 5 years; people who don't pay off their credit-card balance every month would pay for new batteries with the interest saved.

If the lighter, more powerful battery cuts fuel consumption it could be the other way.  Going from 25 MPG to 26 MPG in a vehicle driving 13,000 mi/yr saves 20 gallons/yr, or about $80 at current prices.  $300 for a battery is cheap compared to that.

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