Li-ion maker A123 Systems sells Energy Solutions business to NEC for ~$100M; focus on micro-hybrids and transportation
24 March 2014
A123 Systems LLC, a developer and manufacturer of advanced Nanophosphate lithium iron phosphate batteries and systems, is selling its grid storage business and other assets related to energy storage for telecom and IT data storage applications to NEC Corporation for approximately $100 million.
A123, which is retaining its all of its existing cell manufacturing and sales, research and development, and automotive operations, is increasingly focused on the transportation market with a particular emphasis on micro-hybrids (earlier post). NEC will incorporate the former A123 Energy Solutions Business into a new “NEC Energy Solutions” company, which will begin operation in June 2014.
The rapidly growing micro-hybrid application segment is attractive to A123 as automotive OEMs around the world are steadily turning towards simpler forms of electrification in their mainstream high-volume vehicle lines to address the ever-increasing regulatory requirements of lower emissions and better fuel economy around the world.
A123’s battery technology is well suited to the requirements of this market and the company is currently producing 12-volt micro-hybrid batteries for numerous programs across three vehicle manufacturers.
A123 also continues to actively serve and grow its customer base in the fields of hybrid, plug-in hybrid and fully electric vehicles globally.
With the recent integration of battery production and engineering facilities in Hangzhou, China, which were previously under the management of Wanxiang EV, A123 says it has expanded its battery technology portfolio to include additional products well suited to the requirements of electric cars and buses.
Our move to sharpen focus on current and future customers in the global transportation market demonstrates strategic clarity in our business. Our customers and partners around the world will benefit from the organization focusing its R&D strength and system engineering capabilities on clear priorities.
We look forward to continued growth as a provider of leading-edge energy storage technology to the world’s vehicle manufacturers as they continue to develop the most economical forms of electrification.—Jason Forcier, CEO of A123 Systems
In addition to the transportation business, A123 intends to expand its marketing and distribution of cell products for commercial and industrial applications. The company has formed a new commercial products business unit and will retain its relationships with existing distributors, integrators and value-added resellers of lithium-ion battery cells.
A third strategic direction for A123 is its Venture Technologies unit. Last year, A123 Venture Technologies was introduced to offer a new model for cooperative development and commercialization of innovative battery technologies by drawing on the considerable R&D resources and experience of the company. A123 Venture Technologies says it has already established strategic relationships with battery start-ups in early phase development. The unit has also developed a performance record in motorsports and other high performance applications.
With this acquisition, NEC will become the world’s leading supplier of lithium-ion grid energy storage systems. A123 Energy Solutions has deployed more than 110MW of its Grid Storage Solutions (GSS) worldwide with the majority of these systems already in revenue service. A123 will become a key cell supplier to NEC.
When AONE was breaking fiercely downward below $1 in 2012, it seemed like they could not get out of their own way. Just watching from the outside they appeared paralyzed, as if they were just hunkered down hoping everything was going to work itself out. Some significant restructuring is very much overdue and it's good to see them energized (no pun intended).
Posted by: Herman | 24 March 2014 at 10:13 AM
It's interesting Nissan and NEC are in the battery business together producing LiMnO4 traction batteries for the Leaf. Wonder how this will play out? Perhaps Nissan/NEC has a market for used Leaf batteries now and/or they have access to a better traction battery chemistry from A123.
Posted by: Lad | 24 March 2014 at 10:49 AM