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Big Three Automakers, Michigan Nab Bulk of U.S. Battery Grants

In the latest round of stimulus-funded grant dollars all roads point to Michigan. The Obama administration awarded Wednesday $2.4 billion in federal battery and electric vehicle grants and the bulk of the money went to Michigan-based universities and businesses including the country's three largest automakers.

In all, 48 new advanced battery and electric drive projects received funding provided by the stimulus bill. About $1.5 billion will go to battery makers; $500 million to businesses that manufacturer electric drive components; and $400 million for plug-in hybrid and all-electric vehicle testing. Michigan businesses including GM, Chrysler and Ford, as well as several universities will receive about $1.2 billion of the grant money. At least one start-up in Michigan will receive considerable funds. A123 Systems has been awarded $249.1 million, which will help fund the construction of lithium ion battery manufacturing facilties in the U.S. A123 plans to build its first location in Livonia, Mich.

But as VentureBeat points out, the funds for A123 also will indirectly help Chrysler, which has a supply deal with the company.

Michigan is developing into a manufacturing hub of lithium-ion batteries helped by an influx of grant dollars and tax credit initiatives. Four companies announced plans back in April to invest $1.7 billion to start up advanced battery manufacturing operations in the state. More than $540 million in tax credits was a crucial piece of the deal, which BNET Auto detailed in a post this spring.

The DOE grants went to 11 Michigan-based projects. The largest grant -- just under $300 million -- went to Johnson Controls of Milwaukee. The funds will go towards the production of nickel-cobalt-metal battery cells and packs at its Holland, Mich. facility and production of battery separators for hybrid and electric vehicles with its partner Entek.

Businesses that received grant money for cell, battery and materials manufacturing facilities are listed below. The DOE has a complete list of all recipients in each category including advanced battery makers and electric vehicle manufacturers.

  • KD ABG -- $161 million to produce lithium-ion batteries for hybrid and electric vehicles in its Midland, Mich., facility;
  • Compact Power on behalf of LG Chem -- $151.4 to produce battery cells for the GM Volt in three Michigan facilities;
  • EnerDel Inc. -- $118.5 million to make lithium-ion cells and packs for hybrid and electric vehicles;
  • GM -- $105.9 million to produce high-volume battery packs for the GM Volt at its Brownstown, Mich. facility;
  • Saft America -- $95.5 million for production of lithium-ion cells, modules and battery packs for industrial and agricultural vehicles as well as defense application marketsin Jacksonville, Fla.;
  • Exide Technologies with Axion Power International -- $34.3 million to produce advanced lead-acid batteries for use in hybrids;
  • East Penn Manufacturing -- $32.5 million for production of the "ultrabettery" for use in hybrids.
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