A123 Systems LLC, which opened North America’s biggest electric car battery factory in 2010, is retargeting its lithium-ion technology toward the fast-growing micro-hybrid market. The MIT-spinoff will especially focus on 12V and 48V lithium-ion packs for cars incorporating so-called “start-stop’ technology, which enables a vehicle to stop and restart at traffic lights and stop signs.
“We’re certainly not pulling away from our existing business in electric vehicles,” A123 spokesman Jeff Kessen told Design News. “We’re just recognizing going forward that the best growth opportunities are in the low-voltage space.
The “low-voltage” space would be a departure for A123, which had previously specialized in supplying batteries to pure electric cars, plug-in hybrids, and conventional hybrids that use electrical architectures of 300V to 600V. Those vehicles also tend to employ big battery packs incorporating hundreds of cells. In contrast, 12V start-stop architectures employ a battery size similar to that of today’s conventional gasoline-burning cars.
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