DETROIT — Lauded during a visit by President Obama, A123 Systems was supposed to be a centerpiece of his administration’s effort to use $2 billion in government subsidies to jump-start production of sophisticated electric batteries in the United States.
Instead, the company, which makes lithium-ion batteries for electric cars, has stumbled along with the rest of the nascent industry and now threatens to give more ammunition to critics of the president’s heavy spending on new energy technologies.
A123 had to cut workers at its new factory in Livonia, Mich., financed in part with the promise of a $249 million government grant, after its battery for one new electric vehicle faltered and required an expensive recall. Completion of the factory has been delayed. The company is running short of money and has warned that unless it raises more cash from private investors, it might not be able to stay in business.
Yet as much as A123 represents the risks of the government’s battery technology program, it also represents its promise. On Tuesday, A123 Systems will unveil a new battery technology that the company says is a breakthrough in the industry.
The advance uses a new chemistry that could permit the creation of a simpler, lighter, longer-lasting battery pack that does not require a system to cool or heat it.Page 1 of 6 | Next Page