Manufacturing News

Beijing Automotive taps Boston-Power of U.S. for lithium ion batteries

Boston-Power Inc., a closely held U.S. maker of lithium ion batteries, will provide systems to a unit of Beijing Automotive Industry Co. for an electric car that will be available in China this year.

Boston-Power expects its batteries to be in "hundreds of electric vehicles starting in 2012 and thousands of EVs by 2014," according to a statement from the company.

The deal with Beijing Electric Vehicle is Boston-Power's first with a Chinese carmaker, and the company expects the automotive industry to be its most important market, according to Christina Lampe-Onnerud, its international chairman.

"Most of Boston-Power's revenue will be in the automotive segment," she said.

Westborough, Mass.-based Boston-Power's batteries also can be used in laptop computers and for utility energy storage. Lampe-Onnerud expects the bulk of sales to be for vehicles.

The company expects to complete a manufacturing plant near Shanghai this year that will produce battery cells with as much as 400 megawatt-hours of storage capacity annually. It initially will supply Beijing Electric Vehicle from a 120 megawatt-hour a year production line in Taiwan, Lampe-Onnerud said.

There is "significant policy support" for electric vehicles in China, where adoption of the technology has been slow, said Shu Sun, an energy smart technologies analyst for Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Sales of battery-powered and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles in China totaled 8,795 in 2011.

"This is still very low compared to the government target of 500,000 cumulative sales by 2015," he said.

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