A123 Waltham MA
I just heard on our local channel 7 newz WHDH team just announced that A123 of Waltham just missed a payment and is filing for protection. They were or maybe still is the highest quality Lithium battery company. What happens now for Chevrolet, and DeWalt a couple of the largest suppliers of electric devices using A123 products. I'd rather pay more for a quality product vs ThunderSky of which I blew up a number of cells. So what is this going to mean for the EV industry? Did this article make it to national TV? I use a DeWalt 14.4 volt battery pack to power my head light on my xm-3000 and it last for a trip to store very easy. I really like it for ham radio use too and back up lighting during power failures of which we have quite often. I was planning on getting a Volt next year but availability of cells / battery pack modules might just scare me about getting a new vehicle and getting replacement parts. This is big!
Yes.. I read the SEC filings on that yesterday but did not have time to fully digest it or turn it into a news article.
A123 has been struggling with bad news and bad events since Christmas. Just before Christmas they and Fisker revealed that battery packs had been incorrectly built and that A123 was having to replace a large number of packs under warranty. There were later problems discovered such as one of the cell manufacturing machines at one of their plants in Michigan was incorrectly adjusted and was doing the wrong thing.
A123 later revealed it was having to spend $55 million in recalls and warranty costs
Then they issued a warning that it was likely the company would be unable to keep operating as a going concern. Demangling the business-ese, it means they were running short on cash and unable to keep the lights on and make payroll. A123 has never run a profit, and has always funded itself by selling more stock.
Eventually they found a potential buyer - Wanxiang. This is a Chinese autoparts company that is seeking to buy A123. But according to the purchase agreement A123 has to clean up its financial house before the purchase can go through.
In the middle of all this A123 announced the Nanophosphate EXT technology that will allow their cells in the future to operate in a wider range of temperature conditions with no need for cooling. For example, those Nissan Leaf's in Phoenix suffering from range loss due to heat .. Using Nanophosphate EXT they'd be less susceptible to heat without requiring any cooling system.
Anyway.. What it appeared from reading the SEC filing is that A123 is running so short on funds that it is skipping required payments on some of the loans due by the company. This puts the company into technical default. I believe the next step is bankruptcy. I believe this means the Wanxiang deal probably will not go through.
BTW back in September there was a halt in short sales of A123's stock because the stock price was falling too quickly.
Oh boy, this is REALLY getting bad now! The importer of my bike has also filed for bankruptcy just 4 days ago, with a debt of 500 000 Euros. Similar story with lots of warrantee cases - some due to poor workmanship on the side of their Chinese suppliers (bikes and battery), and a lot due to failed attempts to improve the BMS - but also because the owner's son who had started the E-Scooter branch decided a year ago to focus more on his bachelor or masters degree, and his father was completely overwhealmed by all the electrical problems. So I am now COMPLETELY on my own, no more dealer, and even the importer (and thus my remaining warrantee) is no more :-(
Electrical mobility things appear to be going steeply downhill at the moment, apart from a few still shining stars such as Tesla...
Here is A123's official announcement .. http://ir.a123systems.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=713930
I'm still collecting together a news article on this ...
WALTHAM, Mass.-October 16, 2012-A123 Systems, Inc. (Nasdaq: AONE) ("A123" or "the Company"), a developer and manufacturer of advanced Nanophosphate® lithium iron phosphate batteries and systems, today announced that it has entered into an asset purchase agreement with Johnson Controls, Inc. (NYSE: JCI) in a transaction valued at $125 million. Under the terms of the agreement, Johnson Controls plans to acquire A123's automotive business assets, including all of its automotive technology, products and customer contracts; its facilities in Livonia and Romulus, Michigan; its cathode powder manufacturing facilities in China, and A123's equity interest in Shanghai Advanced Traction Battery Systems Co., A123's joint venture with Shanghai Automotive. The asset purchase agreement also includes provisions through which Johnson Controls intends to license back to A123 certain technology for its grid, commercial and government businesses. A123 also continues to engage in active discussions regarding strategic alternatives for its grid, commercial, government and other operations, and has received several indications of interest for these businesses.
Other information here:- http://www.a123systems.com/about-us-asset-purchase-agreement-and-chapter-11-filing.htm
Okay, here's my news article concerning the deal:
To summarize all that, A123's problems stem from two factors. First is quality problems in the company's battery packs, that led to expensive replacement and warranty costs.... Second, is the failure of Fisker Automotive to ramp up production of the Fisker Karma and Fisker Atlantic as expected. The Atlantic was originally slated to begin production at the end of this year, which would have put A123 in the position of ramping up battery pack production to supply packs for the Atlantic.
The deal is that A123 is selling its automotive battery business to Johnson Control. It is keeping control of the energy grid storage business, but may sell that to another company. A123 may emerge from bankruptcy down the line and get back to business under its own name.