GE Increases Investment in A123Systems; Total Position of $55M for 9% of Company

Jose Michael

GE is making its sixth equity investment in lithium-ion battery manufacturer A123Systems, putting $30 million into A123’s $102 million Series E financing. GE is the battery manufacturer’s largest single cash investor, with 9% ownership. The investments were made by GE Commercial Finance - Equity and GE Energy Financial Services, bringing GE’s combined total investment in A123Systems to $55 million. (Earlier post.)

GE made the announcement at a Battery Technology Symposium held at its Global Research Center in Niskayuna, New York. In addition to receiving capital from GE, A123 is drawing on the research and technology development expertise of GE Global Research to design battery system components for automotive programs. A123Systems says that it is participating in GE’s exploration of a dual battery system—the combination of two battery chemistries, one biased toward power and the other toward energy, into a single battery pack, in a DOE-funded project with Chrysler. (Earlier post.)

GE’s battery focus is large-scale; GE researchers are working on bringing the hybrid locomotive to market, and are also evaluating how GE’s hybrid technologies can accelerate advancements for other hybrid transportation platforms such as tugboats, buses and passenger cars.

GE’s hybrid locomotive is targeted to provide an additional 10% fuel savings and 10% emissions reduction, capturing and storing energy with a Zebra battery pack in the braking process. GE researchers have several projects underway with the US Department of Energy (DOE), including the partnership with Chrysler to demonstrate economically viable plug-in hybrid vehicle technologies within the next three to five years. The goal is to achieve an electric driving range of at least 40 miles for a vehicle platform, well above the average daily commute for motorists. GE is responsible for developing the dual battery energy storage system, while Chrysler will be responsible for the vehicle integration piece.

In January, GE’s Hybrid Vehicle team reached a milestone with the DOE, successfully demonstrating the first hybrid mine haul truck. The hybrid off-highway vehicle, used for open pit mining operations, was modified with a 450 kW Zebra battery pack that captures braking energy to save fuel and increase productivity.

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