A123 reveals next-generation electric car battery

WALTHEM, MASS. -- A123 Systems Inc., a manufacturer of lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles, disclosed that it made a breakthrough in battery chemistry that will allow its cells to be used in extreme hot or cold without costly heating or cooling gear.

Cells using the company's patented "Nanophosphate EXT" chemistry last longer in very hot and cold temperatures, it said.

The company said on Tuesday it will begin producing batteries using the chemistry in the first half of 2013. The main customers for the new cells may be for start-stop batteries on cars and trucks that are forecast to spread across vehicles as a way to conserve fuel and for use in the telecommunications industry.

The company provided details of the advancement as it is trying to regain its footing from a costly recall that has endangered its operations.

A123 ran into financial problems because of the dual combination of its recall, caused by a manufacturing process flaw, and the slow uptake of plug-in electric vehicles.

The technology advancement could help A123 differentiate itself from competitors in the fast-growing market for start-stop systems on vehicles. The batteries keep vehicle systems running when a car turns off the engine at a stop and then restarts when the car gets moving. The temperature resistance could make it last longer and be easier to package under the hood, Vieau said.