This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

April 08, 2009

Chrysler Selects A123Systems for Electric Vehicle Batteries

Chrysler LLC announced on April 6 its selection of A123Systems as the battery supplier for its upcoming all-electric vehicles and range-extended electric vehicles. Chrysler plans to bring its first production electric vehicle to market in 2010, and A123Systems will provide the lithium-ion battery packs to power that and subsequent Chrysler electric vehicles. A123Systems has developed a patented Nanophosphate lithium-ion battery that can meet consumer demands for performance, driving range, and durability, according to Chrysler. The Massachusetts-based company plans to build a manufacturing plant in Michigan for production of the "prismatic" battery cells—the rectangular types of cells used in laptops and cell phones—and assemble them into the battery packs for the vehicles. Chrysler's agreement with A123Systems contrasts with the approach of General Motors Corporation (GM), which is buying its battery cells from South Korea's LG Chem. See the Chrysler press release and the article from this newsletter on the GM battery agreement.

Photo of a man driving a two-seat experimental vehicle that balances on two large wheels. The two seats are enclosed by a low, flat bulkhead in front of the seats and a plastic, metal-framed window that runs from the top of the bulkhead and curves over the seats, connecting to the seat back.

The Project P.U.M.A. vehicle uses Segway technology to balance on two wheels. The production version is envisioned as a fully enclosed vehicle. Enlarge this image.
Credit: Bob Carey, Segway Inc.

GM is working with a U.S.-based company on at least one aspect of its electric vehicle plans: the company announced on April 7 that it has teamed up with Segway, Inc. to develop an all-electric, two-wheeled vehicle for use around cities. Called Project P.U.M.A., for "Personal Urban Mobility and Accessibility," the vehicle has a top speed of 35 miles per hour and a range of 35 miles. The vehicle uses Segway technology to balance on two wheels and draws on a lithium-ion battery for power. Looking similar to a large, enclosed wheelchair, the P.U.M.A. prototype rests on its two small front wheels when stopped, then rises off those wheels when moving, like a wheelchair pulling a wheelie. It's unclear if the two-wheeled design provides any efficiency benefit, but the vehicles can communicate with one another, potentially providing for smoother traffic flow. Segway's founder, Dean Kamen, envisioned a revolution in urban transport with the Segway, and although that vision never materialized, Project P.U.M.A. may have a greater impact, if the vehicle is able to withstand crash tests. See the GM press release and the Segway PUMA Web site.