Last spring, analyst Theo O’Neill predicted that battery maker A123 would file for bankruptcy in mid-October if it didn’t raise more cash or cut expenses. A123 supplies lithium-ion batteries for Fisker Automotive’s Karma sedan, which has struggled to get off the ground. (Eric Wesoff of Greentech Media has a chronicles the Karma-on-fire-in-Woodside here: http://bit.ly/SbkRts)
On Tuesday, A123 field for bankruptcy protection and sold its assets to Johnson Controls.
Gov. Mitt Romney used the first presidential debate to blast stimulus funding for Solyndra, Tesla, Ener1 and Fisker. Republican strategists are no doubt adding A123 to the list of talking points during tonight’s debate.
A123 was awarded a $249 million grant from the Department of Energy in August 2009 to help build its US factories in the Detroit suburbs; the company has used $132 million of the grant. The DOE put out information about its support of advanced battery manufacturing here: http://energy.gov/articles/update-advanced-battery-manufacturing
Fisker says that they have an ample supply of batteries, or enough to last them through early 2013.
“It’s comforting to see Johnson Controls brought into the picture,” said Fisker spokemsan Roger Ornisher. “Our understanding is that they will continue to produce the batteries.”
The Fisker Karma was designed and engineered with A123 in mind as the battery supplier. But given A123′s problems, Fisker has been looking at other potential suppliers for the Atlantic, its next production vehicle.
“It doesn’t matter that much to Fisker,” said O’Neill, who left Wunderlich and now has his own shop, known as Litchfield Hills Research. “They can get a battery from Johnson Controls or someone else. Johnson Controls gets a good deal, and they can buy time until the market for electric vehicles materializes.”
Ray Lane, a managing partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, is on the board of Fisker Automotive. He was scheduled to speak about clean tech investing Tuesday evening at the Commonwealth Club, but the event has been postponed. http://www.climate-one.org/upcoming-events/ray-lane