PHOTO CAPTION: Lola Drayson electric LMP racer.

Will A123 Bankruptcy Cripple Electric Cars?

Drayson Racing designed its Le Mans-style electric racer around A123 System's nano-structured lithium ion chemistry.

Published: 23-Oct-2012

One of the pioneers of high power, long range electric vehicle batteries, A123 Systems, went bankrupt last week, sending shockwaves through the nascent electric vehicle industry. "This is a setback for the emerging EV industry, certainly," admits Paul Drayson, a technology entrepreneur and Le Mans racing driver who served as science and innovation minister in Tony Blair's administration.

His company, Drayson Racing Technologies, is developing an electric racing car that had A123's technology at its heart. And major league motor makers GM and BMW number amongst 123's customers. "A123 was regarded very highly for its excellent cells," says Drayson. "That is why we use their state of the art cells in our EV racing car."

"It shows how tough it is to survive and prosper in the cleantech industry right now and that's a major worry," Drayson told New Scientist. "We need companies like these to succeed if we are going to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels."


David Vieau (right) with President Obama at White House announcement.

David Vieau sees 80% stake in A123 by Wanxiang as saving American jobs.

Illustration of A123 Systems energy storage bank.

While the electric car battery side of the business proved to slow developing to save A123, the grid storage business appears to be where the most immediate opportunity lies.

Chevrolet Spark EV on display at 2013 NAIAS is equipped with A123 System lithium batteries.

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States approves auction of A123 to Chinese parts supplier, which generates $1 billion in U.S. revenues supply parts to GM and Ford Motor co.


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