A123 Systems: new technology may reduce cost of electric vehicles by $600. image

Advanced battery maker A123 Systems Inc. said a new technology could reduce the cost of electric vehicles by $600.

The announcement comes as A123 struggles from a recent recall of defective batteries, a cut in orders from one of its largest customers, and concerns it disclosed in financial filings about its ability to raise enough cash to meet operating needs.

A123 isn’t saying much about the details of the new technology, except to say it involves tweaks to both of the battery’s electrodes as well as the battery electrolyte.

“They have been able to increase the operating window to colder and warmer temperatures simultaneously without sacrifice to performance or life at each extreme,” said Ahmad Pesaran, energy storage team lead at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Center for Transportation Technologies and Systems, in an email, Freep reports.

A123 has struggled since its IPO in September 2009, as the electric car market has failed to grow. The company does have a contract to supply batteries for GM’s Chevy Spark, scheduled for 2013 release.
A123 had to recall batteries installed in the Karma twice. In December 2011, 239 of the luxury cars were recalled because of the potential for fire-starting coolant leaks. The cause of the problem was a badly-placed hose clamp in the A123-assembled battery pack.

However, the company plans to hire 400 employees over the next four months at its Livonia and Romulus plants on the heels of landing strong power grid and commercial transportation contracts.

At its peak last year, A123 employed 1,020 in Southeast Michigan, before dropping to its current 781.

A123 Systems closed at $1.04 Monday.