2011 Chevrolet VoltEnlarge Photo
Giving a boost to the beleaguered Michigan economy, Massachusetts lithium-ion battery maker A123 Systems recently announced plans to build a plant in Southeast Michigan.
Most electric vehicle batteries that currently power gas-electric hybrids and all-electric vehicles currently hail from Asia. Detroit's Free Press claims that A123 Systems could eventually employ 14,000 people and supply batteries for 5 million hybrid vehicles or 500,000 plug-in hybrids by 2013. Both General Motors and Chrysler LLC are said to be considering sourcing batteries from A123 for the upcoming 2011 Chevrolet Volt and ENVI electric vehicles, respectively.
The Free Press claim that GM's Bob Lutz is especially keen on domestic battery production, calling it "a positive development for our industry and the nation." A 123 is reported to be in talks with seven different automakers. A123 Systems has applied for $1.8 billion in federal loans under the $25 billion advanced technology program funded last year by Congress. And the U.S. Department of Energy is set to provide $27 million in matching funds for the company.
With both GM and Chrysler's financial troubles on display in Congress, it's tough to know whether cars like the Volt and Chrysler EVs will ever become reality. There's more to come next week for sure when the Detroit auto show gets underway -- take a look over at our flagship site, TheCarConnection.com, for continuous coverage of all the latest hybrids and electric vehicles. --Colin Mathews