A123 Systems was once known as the world’s best battery cell maker, famous for its expertise in LiFePO4 technology. But times have changed and A123 Systems is no longer as popular as it once was in the electric car community.
While LiFePO4 battery cells are still great for renewable energy storage, since it’s a very safe chemistry with great lifespan and power density, the energy density is lower than what we get with NCA and NMC chemistries. High energy density is the reason why NCA and NMC dominate modern electric vehicle batteries. Any battery maker that wants to be successful in electric cars has to adopt either NCA or NMC chemistries for its batteries.
Today A123 Systems is no longer an USA company, it’s now fully owned by the Chinese Wanxiang Group, the same company that bought Fisker’s assets and renamed it to Karma Automotive.
We can now read this in A123 Systems website:
“A123 has diversified our product portfolio to include nickel manganese cobalt (NMC) technology to meet the market demand for advanced battery chemistries in high energy applications, particularly, plug-in electric vehicles. Although A123’s technical heritage is based on lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4), the advanced battery market has developed different chemistry preferences for different applications and A123 has adapted with a significant diversification of our product portfolio.
A123 has moved aggressively to invest in scientific talent, develop our supply chain and expand production capacity for this class of high energy battery materials. The progress to date has been outstanding as this technology is relatively new to us, but we have already launched numerous vehicle programs into production. NMC products now account for roughly half of all A123 output, but we’re not yet satisfied.
Looking forward, we are investing a significant share of our R&D budget to enhance the energy density of NMC cells without compromising on the life and safety performance that the market has come to expect from A123. These efforts will ultimately translate into greater electric range for the vehicles we supply and we anticipate that our NMC portfolio will steadily become more diverse with different form factors and cell capacities.”
The 2017 Karma Revero might be the reason why A123 Systems is now making NMC battery cells. This luxurious plug-in hybrid will have a 21,1 kWh battery.
Again in the A123 Systems website, but in other page we can read the following:
“Delivering superior performance to passenger vehicles has driven A123 to expand the breadth of our product portfolio beyond our historical focus on LFP technology. By moving toward offering the proven NMC chemistry, A123 will be able to deliver a cost-effective, longer range solution for the passenger car market. Our innovative materials development team has optimized A123 technology for power, energy, and cost, delivering battery systems that meet the demanding performance requirements of passenger vehicles globally.”
It’s still not clear if the 2017 Karma Revero will get the new NMC battery cells or the good old LiFePO4 cells instead. But I’m almost sure that A123 Systems is now producing high voltage batteries only with NMC battery cells, and leaves the LiFePO4 cells to make 12 and 48 V batteries. I’m looking forward to see the NMC battery cells specs…
What do you think? Will A123 Systems emerge successfully with NMC battery cells?