GM Volt Project Places Spotlight on Battery Innovator A123Systems
WATERTOWN, Mass. --- The industry buzz surrounding General Motors' Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid car, set to roll out by the end of 2010, is also placing a spotlight on A123Systems --- the car's battery developer.A123Systems, based in Watertown, is developing a nanophosphate-based battery whose technology is similar to that used in lithium-ion batteries that drive cordless power tools, according to a story in BusinessWeek. In contrast, Toyota is focusing its battery development on cobalt oxide-based lithium-ion batteries, battery technology similar to that used in cell phones and laptop computers.A123Systems' proprietary nanophosphate technology is "built on a new, highly active nanoscale material initially developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology," the company said.A123Systems, launched in 2001, has raised over $100 million in private funding. Investors include General Electric, Motorola and Qualcomm.GM has said the Volt will allow consumers to travel up to 40 miles on battery power, after which the gas engine will activate to recharge the battery while the car continues to travel. If the driver is just making short trips, the car can travel solely on electricity and the battery can simply be plugged in overnight to recharge.