Boston-Power to supply Li-ion battery systems to Beijing Electric Vehicle Company for EVs, starting with Saab 9-5 based C70

8 August 2012

Boston-Power, Inc., a provider of next-generation lithium-ion battery cells, modules and systems (earlier post), has entered a multi-year agreement to provide lithium-ion battery systems to Beijing Electric Vehicle Company (BJEV), the electric vehicle delivery arm of Beijing Automotive Industry Company (BAIC). The two companies, which have a long-standing working relationship, project that Boston-Power’s battery systems will be used in hundreds of electric vehicles (EVs) starting in 2012 and thousands of EVs by 2014.

The systems will be based on Boston-Power’s second-generation Swing 5300 cells, said Dr. Christina Lampe-Önnerud, Boston-Power’s Founder and International Chairman. Under the terms of the agreement, Boston-Power’s battery systems are expected to support multiple BJEV models and brands.

“China’s stated policy is to lead the world in the development of clean transportation and we intend to produce thousands of hybrid and electric vehicles.”
—Fang Qing, general manager of

Beijing Electric Vehicle Company

Availability of pre-ordered vehicles begins in fourth calendar quarter 2012 with the C70 sedan, which is based on the 9-5 SAAB chassis BAIC acquired in 2009. (Earlier post.) The BAIC C70 will use a 30 kWh pack, Lampe-Önnerud said.

(Saab’s planned zero-emission, high performance electric vehicle, the ZE Saab 9-3, would have been powered by a Swing battery system. Earlier post.)

Boston-Power cells are based on a flat, oval-shaped prismatic design with external dimensions equivalent to two conventional 18650 lithium-ion cells. The company has introduced two cell products from its technology platform: Swing cells for transportation and stationary energy storage applications; and Sonata cells for notebook and portable power applications, as well as a family of battery blocks, modules and systems for large format applications.

The Swing 5300 cell—introduced earlier this year and based on the same technology platform as the first generation Swing 4400 cell (cobalt and manganese cathode and graphite anode, earlier post)—was designed to target the challenges of the automotive market and offers 10% reduced internal impedance by 10% and ~20% increased energy density, leading to reduced heat generation and therefore longer life.

Key features of the Swing 5300 include:

  • High energy density of 490 Wh/L and 207Wh/kg (186Wh/kg usable at 90% DOD).

  • 10-year reliable calendar life: 1000+ cycles at 100% DOD; 2000+ cycles at 90% DOD; 3500+ cycles at 75% DOD

  • Industry-leading operating temperature range: Discharge -40°C to 70°C; charge -20°C to 60°C

  • High constant power: 440W/kg

  • Pulse power: 1000W/kg (10s pulse)

  • Multiple redundant safety features including CIDs, redundant vents, aluminum can.

As the automotive market took off, we were invited into China at a time when it is incredibly exciting to be in China; the players are working very hard. The Chinese government is putting incentives in place to have the market grow. China is already the number one car market in the world; I think they are quite determined to be number one in electric. I think Boston-Power has a chance to be one of the players that enable that dream.

The way I view the world is this. China is taking off in electric transport. They are the real market. In the US today, unfortunately, we lost a lot of that policy, and have debated whether we need the policy, whereas China is extremely clear they are not able to grow [the electric vehicle market] without it. Strategically, I think that’s a better market.

I think this is the new China. You don’t have to grow the company [there] organically, you leverage partnerships to grow. The opportunity is there. What we have to do is do good and make money.

—Christina Lampe-Önnerud

In July, China’s State Council published a plan to develop the domestic energy-saving and new energy vehicle industry, including battery-electric vehicles, plug-in hybrid vehicles and fuel cell vehicles. The central government is targeting the production of 500,000 plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles by 2015, with output to grow to 2 million units of those types by 2020. China is targeting the cumulative production and sales of more than 5 million new energy vehicles, including fuel cell vehicles, by that time as well. (Earlier post.)

In September 2011, Boston-Power announced $125 million in funding from a combination of private equity investment and support from China. (Earlier post.) The growth capital and Chinese government incentives are being used to scale manufacturing, research and development, and business development activities in China.

The private equity round was led by GSR Ventures, a venture capital firm with more than $1 billion under management that invests primarily in early stage and growth stage technology companies with substantial operations in China.

Additionally, through its stimulus programs and local industrial policies, the Chinese government is providing a range of grants, low-interest loans and related financial and tax incentives.

As part of its plans, Boston-Power is establishing an R&D and EV battery engineering facility in China. This organization is building upon the current generation of Boston-Power’s lithium-ion battery technology to develop new energy storage products and solutions. The company is also building an advanced manufacturing facility outside Shanghai that will be capable of producing 400 megawatt hours (MWh) of lithium-ion battery cells annually by the end of 2012.

I’m pleased to see how well R&D is working with manufacturing. We launched the 4400 and then a year and a half later the 5300, using the same production line. As we continue to drive product into the market, the very key thing is the customers. We could not have done this without the customer base we have, big brands [such as Lenovo and HP] recognized what we bring to the table.

—Christina Lampe-Önnerud

Boston-Power broke ground on the plant last September, and is “on target, on plan, on budget” to have it up and running by the end of the year, said Lampe-Önnerud. First shipments are expected in the first quarter of next year. The company’s plant in Taiwan is still operating as well.