General Motors has hit a snag in the Chinese market with regard to its electrified vehicle production: its domestic battery supplier, A123 Systems, is producing packs that fail to meet the automaker’s performance and safety standards. Prior to its acquisition by Wanxiang Group, A123 Systems was an American company headquartered in Livonia, Michigan, which produced battery packs for Fisker Automotive’s luxury sports sedan, the Karma. A123 was forced to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2012 after having to launch a wide-scale battery recall.
Today, the Wanxiang-owned A123 Systems produces battery packs for Chinese-market automotive applications at a factory in the city of Hangzhou, China.
“There are concerns with the quality of Chinese-manufactured cells and batteries,” Thomas Barrera, President of Long Beach battery consultancy LIB-X Consulting, told The Wall Street Journal recently. “Chinese cells are very attractive because they’re inexpensive, but people may not realize that these cells may not have gone through the necessary qualification testing before going to market.”
A123 Systems’ production quality issues are already affecting GM’s business in China, forcing the automaker to delay the introduction of the Buick Velite – its localized version of the Chevrolet Volt PHEV – as well as the Velite’s pure-electric variant. The PHEV had been scheduled to enter production in September, and the BEV version has planned for next year.