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Electric car startup Coda laying off 50
#SuryaRay #Surya Following struggles by Better Place, Fisker Automotive and the bankrupt A123 Systems, electric car startup Coda Automotive has laid off 50 workers, according to PluginCars. The car company has reportedly had really slow sales, and recently received a low score for its frontal crash test.
A Coda spokesperson said that 50 employees was 15 percent of the workforce. The company’s first electric sedan to market was delayed by years, and the car maker officially launched its sales in the Spring of 2012. But even after launch, the company had to recall 78 of its cars for faulty parts.
Coda has been directly competing with the LEAF in terms of price, all-electric features and the fact that both cars are pretty basic. Nissan’s LEAF has an official electric range of 73 miles and a 99 MPGe, and costs $35,200 (without subsidies). The Coda sedan has a base cost of $37,900 down from $44,900 (before any state and federal subsidies).
Coda has a joint venture with China battery maker Lishen, called Lio (oil spelled backward), and is in the process of raising $150 million in funding to help get these inaugural cars to the first customers in California. Other investors in Coda include Aeris Capital and Singapore-based EDB Investments.
This is a bad few weeks for electric car companies. Electric car charging infrastructure company Better Place delivered massive layoffs, electric car company Fisker Automotive is searching for a partner to help it get its Atlantic built, and battery maker A123 Systems was sold off in bankruptcy court to Chinese auto giant Wanxiang.
The 8MW Lithium Battery Of Southern California Edison for Wind Power Storage
The Southern California Edison (SCE) Tehachapi Wind Energy Storage project, to be carried out in partnership with A123 Systems,will test the capabilities of an 8-megawatt,32-megawatt-hour lithium battery at SCE’s Monolith substation in the wind-rich Tehachapi Mountains, according to Mark Irwin, a director in SCE’s advanced technology department.To fund the $53.5 million test, DOE will supply nearly $25 million and other partners, including the California Public Utilities Commission and A123 Systems, will supply over $29.9 million.
The battery storage system is now being installed and is scheduled to go operational late in 2012. Testing will run for a minimum of 24 months. The lithium-ion phosphate battery system will take four hours to charge and will discharge over four hours. It will occupy an unmanned 6,300-square-foot building at Monolith. Monitoring will be done remotely.
The A123 Systems battery, Irwin said, has”approximately eight times the energy density”of the system SCE tested a decade and a half ago.”A123 Systems has other technologies that are more energy dense,”Irwin added.”There are tradeoffs they had to make for the performance we require.”SCE will test a cylindrical storage of battery technology from A123 as part of a DOE smart grid project in California’s Orange County. That technology will have a 15-minute charge-discharge cycle.”It is more of a power device,”Irwin explained.”You’re trying to enhance the volume you can do quickly but you’re not looking for a long duration.”
The more energy-dense prismatic technology is newer than the Tehachapi technology and will, Irwin said, be the first such device to be used in a smart grid application.Some of the tests of the lithium-ion battery system will center on solving transmission system integration challenges associated with handling the electricity generated by the thousands of turbines built in the Tehachapi Mountains since the early 1980s to harvest the region’s abundant wind resource. SCE wants to better understand some operational constraints it has encountered over the many years of working with Tehachapi wind.
For voltage control, the questions will be, Irwin said,”Did we control voltage within the range that we were trying to? Did the device automatically control it? Did voltage stay within the parameters we designed it to? And what was the impact on the circuit?”Another test will involve”shifting energy from the off-peak to the on-peak. Eight megawatts, four hours,”Irwin said.”We will look at what we call round-trip efficiency-energy-in versus how much energy out, and the auxiliary use of the device while it’s charging, discharging and at idle. What is the total efficiency of the system in that application?”
The Tehachapi and Irvine projects are part of SCE’s larger approach to energy storage.”Our objective is to make energy storage a tool that we know,”Irwin said.”We see roadmaps of battery manufacturers to get to price points that we think could lead to larger deployment.”That is not yet a certainty, he stipulated. But”if that price point arrives,”he said, SCE will”be in a position to understand exactly what performance looks like and exactly how reliable the tool is.”Asked about that price point, Irwin declined the request to be more specific, but referenced the U.S. Advanced Battery Consortium goal of $20 per kilowatt.
A123 will replace defective battery packs takes blame for Fisker Karma glitch
DETROIT — A123 Systems is replacing lithium-ion battery modules and packs that could fail due to a manufacturing defect, a problem that recently led to the high-profile shutdown of the Fisker Karma luxury sedan during testing. A123 said it discovered defects in certain cells made at its plant in suburban Detroit that CEO David Vieau said can “result in premature failure of the battery module or pack, including a decrease in performance and reduced battery life.”
The company, which developed as a start-up at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has begun building replacement modules and packs, and expects to begin shipping them to five affected corporate customers this week, he said.
Vieau said A123 was unaware of any accidents or injuries related to the defect and said the defect did not create a safety issue. However, he acknowledged the defect led the Karma electric car to shut down on March 7 during testing by widely followed consumer magazine Consumer Reports.
A123 expects the replacement to cost about $55 million and that it will be funded over the next several quarters.
Vieau said the company had sufficient liquidity for the campaign but the situation would likely lead to the adjustment of A123’s fundraising strategy. He declined to say how many modules or packs were being replaced.
A123 shares closed the day down 12.35 percent to $1.49 a share on the Nasdaq.
Fisker, in a statement, said today it would enhance its current customer service program to include a free battery replacement and an extension to the Karma’s North American warranty from 50 months/50,000 miles to 60 months/60,000 miles.
On March 13, Fisker notified customers that it was addressing the problem with a team of 50 engineers.
“The Karma performed exactly as it was designed to,” CEO Tom LaSorda said in a letter sent to customers. “The onboard diagnostics detected a fault and entered a protection mode that shut the car down to protect other components.”Automobile News
“A123 Systems, a green energy manufacturer that was approved for $249 million in taxpayer funded stimulus grants, filed for bankruptcy on Tuesday. The company made electric car batteries and was based in Waltham, Massachusetts. A deal to turn over control to a Chinese firm fell through, Johnson Controls will now buy the assets from the failed business for $125 million.”—A123 Systems: Green Energy Company Approved For $249 Million In Stimulus Funds Goes Bankrupt
Chinese giant Wanxiang wins bid for bankrupt A123 and its battery tech
#SuryaRay #Surya Chinese auto tech behemoth Wanxiang has won the bidding process in an auction to buy the assets of bankrupt battery maker A123 Systems. On Sunday the companies announced that Wanxiang plans to acquire most of the assets of A123 for $256.6 million. It’s news that could be a bit controversial, given A123 received a $132 million grant from the U.S. government, and could now be owned by a Chinese company.
The winning bid beat out Johnson Control’s bid to acquire A123′s automotive division. Johnson Controls previously had offered to buy the automotive division and two factories for $125 million.
One of the reasons Wanxiang’s offer to buy up A123 had been controversial was because A123 had some U.S. military contracts, which critics didn’t want to see in the hands of a Chinese company. But A123 decided to sell off its government business, including all its U.S. military contracts, to Illinois-based company Navitas Systems, for $2.25 million. Wanxiang acquired the rest of the assets including the grid storage business.
We’ll see if that move silences politician critics like U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa). The deal still has to be approved by the bankruptcy court as well as the Committee for Foreign Investment in the United States (CIFIUS).
If approved, the future of A123 System’s lithium ion battery tech will fittingly be owned by a Chinese auto giant, as China is increasingly becoming one of the most important markets for electric vehicles. Money from Chinese investors, conglomerates, cities and the government, continues to drive a significant amount of the future of next-generation electric car technology.
The deal also provides a future for A123′s technology, which had a promising beginning, but had suffered a series of setbacks in 2012. Venture-backed A123 held the largest IPO in 2009, raising some $371 million, and was trading at over $20 per share when it started trading. A123 also raised more than $350 million from private investors when it was still a startup.
Yet in recent months, it suffered from manufacturing problems, and also had only a handful of customers for its premium batteries. The company had been losing boat loads of money for years.
The Wanxiang deal still won’t make back enough to cover its debts. A123 says:
Because the total purchase price for A123’s assets would be less than the total amount owed to creditors, the Company does not anticipate any recoveries for its current shareholders and believes its stock to have no value.
Now that the A123 bankruptcy is moving forward, it will be interesting to see what Fisker Automotive, one of A123′s prime customers, will do. Fisker had told the media that it is waiting for the results of the A123 auction before it starts back up assembling its Karma cars.
This isn’t Wanxiang’s first cleantech and clean energy acquisition — it’s actually its fifth in 2012, says the company in a release. Wanxiang has been aggressively acquiring under valued American cleantech and clean energy companies.