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Frost & Sullivan selects Li-ion maker A123 Systems for 2014 strategy & leadership award; focus on transportation

Based on its recent analysis of lithium-ion batteries for the transportation market, Frost & Sullivan recognized Li-ion battery maker A123 Systems with the 2014 Global Frost & Sullivan Award for Competitive Strategy Innovation & Leadership. The company combines advanced lithium-ion technology, R&D, strategic acquisitions and a clear marketing focus on the transportation segment, according to the consultancy.

While A123 Systems has historically offered solutions across transportation, energy storage, and industrial segments, it recently sold off its lithium-ion battery integration operations for the energy storage sector to NEC. (Earlier post.) Although it will remain a supplier of lithium cells to NEC, this change in focus to end-user application will enhance its position in the engineering and manufacturing of lithium-ion batteries, Frost & Sullivan said.

At the same time, this move will help the company target the high-growth automotive market, specifically the micro-hybrid segment where it already has three customers in series production. A123 Systems is also expanding its presence in the mass transit market, another promising segment in transportation.

Demonstrating its dedication to entrenching itself in the market, the company acquired rights to Leyden Energy’s high-power technology and related technical staff. (Earlier post.) As Leyden Energy specialized in developing lithium titanate batteries that utilize non-flammable electrolyte material, A123 Systems is able to address a key product safety challenge associated with lithium-ion batteries.

Given the demanding nature of the transportation segment, Frost & Sullivan said it appreciated A123 Systems’ continuous investment in R&D to improve lithium-ion battery capability. The company recently launched its Nanophosphate EXT lithium product that offers substantial power capability at low temperatures, while delivering longer life at higher temperatures. (Earlier post.) This not only reduces the need for thermal management, but also cuts the associated vehicle costs in some applications.

By extending the life cycle of its lithium product while simultaneously adding reliability and safety, A123 Systems has effectively established itself as a lithium-ion technology innovator. Specifically, within the automotive segment, A123 Systems’ lithium batteries offer more power density, thereby helping micro-hybrid vehicle manufacturers comply with regulations aimed at boosting vehicle fuel efficiency.

—,Imran Khan, Frost & Sullivan Research Analyst

Frost & Sullivan said that A123 Systems has out-strategized its rivals by maintaining focus on the automotive and mass-transit segments, which are less subject to pricing pressures than the consumer market segments. Similarly, A123 Systems’ affiliation as a member of the Wanxiang Group provides it with a solid manufacturing base in China, which is a promising market for lithium-ion batteries across a range of applications, including transportation.

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