Rev your engines, auto startups — there’s a new VC in town. General Motors (s GM) announced this morning that it has created a new subsidiary to identify, develop and invest in innovative technologies in the transportation sector.
Electrovaya, the Canadian battery maker supplying lithium-ion batteries for Chrysler’s plug-in hybrid truck demo, brought in nearly $1.1 million in revenue during the first three months of this year, compared to just $675,000 in the same period a year earlier.
General Motors and Chrysler, in their bids for government loans for green car manufacturing, have cleared the hurdle of demonstrating financial viability. Now it’s a matter of showing that their ideas for producing more efficient vehicles are on the cutting edge.
Chrysler and NASA plan to share data and research related to battery systems, energy storage, materials engineering, radar, robotics and other technologies over the next three years as part of a new alliance announced this morning.
Battery maker A123Systems has just hit a milestone in its young public life: Officers, directors, employees and early investors holding more than two thirds of A123’s common stock are free to cash out. A123’s shares have sunk more than 5.9 percent today.
Chrysler and Fiat plan to launch an electric version of the Fiat 500 minicar packed with lithium-ion batteries from A123Systems (s AONE) in the U.S. in 2012, Chrysler announced today. It will mark the pair’s first all-electric model, and a big year for A123 as it finds its footing as a large scale battery maker.
Chrysler tapped battery company A123Systems last year as the supplier for at least the first generation of plug-in vehicles in its planned ENVI lineup. The automaker has largely scrapped the original ENVI plan, however, making clear in the 5-year plan it unveiled last November that it won’t kick into high gear with electric cars for the consumer market until 2011 and beyond.
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Jump out of the little pond and take its chances with the big fish — that’s what ECOtality (s ETLY) aims to do by listing its common stock on the Nasdaq Capital Market (previously called the SmallCap Market). ECOtality, which is the parent company of electric vehicle infrastructure provider eTec, announced today that it has applied to list its stock on the tier of NASDAQ that’s meant for companies that need capital to grow their business.
Currently, ECOtality trades on what’s called the Over-the-Counter Bulletin Board, or OTCBB — an exchange often used by relatively small and risky companies because it does not have the listing requirements of the Nasdaq or New York Stock Exchange. For ECOtality, switching over to the Nasdaq Capital Market would mark a new phase for the company — opening it to a larger pool of potential investors and suggesting growing confidence in its bet on the still-nascent electric vehicle market.
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For at least one green car maker out there, tomorrow may be the lucky day. According to a press advisory from the Department of Energy today, Secretary Steven Chu will — drumroll please — “make a loan announcement” related to the agency’s advanced technology vehicle loan program at noon (EST) Thursday at the Washington Auto Show.
This could go at least a couple of ways, with Chu either announcing the closure of one of the loans that the DOE agreed to last year on a conditional basis. A far more interesting option, of course, would be the announcement of a sixth loan recipient.
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Eight auto and car parts makers will get more than $187 million in federal funds to help them improve the fuel efficiency of heavy-duty trucks and passenger vehicles, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu announced today. The awards, funded largely through the Recovery Act, come as the auto industry is striving to put its greenest foot forward at the North American International Auto Show, which kicked off this morning in Detroit.
Fuel efficiency represents a key selling point for many of the vehicles at this year’s auto show — Toyota is boasting that its new FT-CH hybrid concept would beat even the popular Prius on fuel efficiency, and Ford CEO Alan Mulally spoke this morning at the event about “one percenters,” or small design tweaks that add up to significant fuel-efficiency gains. The Department of Energy hopes today’s funding awards will help make fuel-saving technologies more of a given in car and truck designs, rather than a bonus.
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For electric cars at Chrysler, the game won’t kick into high gear until 2011 and beyond. The Detroit automaker, which tapped A123Systems earlier this year to develop battery cells for upcoming electric vehicles, said in a meeting today detailing its five-year business plan that it’s working to introduce a test fleet of plug-in hybrid minivans and trucks in 2011 (a project supported by the Department of Energy) and possibly an all-electric vehicle in 2012. Over the long term, Chrysler powertrain chief Paolo Ferrero said, the company — now managed and partly owned by Italy’s Fiat SpA — will expand its lineup of hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles “once they become a cost-effective proposition” for car buyers.
In the meantime, internal combustion engine vehicles will dominate the lineup, with increased focus on fuel efficiency using start-stop systems and Fiat engine technology. And while Fiat boasts small platform vehicles that could make good candidates for electrification, Chrysler will be taking the lead in engineering for hybrid and electrification for both companies.
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