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Lithium-ion battery maker A123 names Jason Forcier CEO

By: Dustin Walsh
CRAIN'S DETROIT BUSINESS

October 10, 2013

A123 Systems LLC has named Jason Forcier its new CEO, less than a year after the lithium-ion battery maker was acquired by Chinese supplier Wanxiang Group.

Forcier replaces former CEO David Vieau, who was removed from the position following Wanxiang's buyout of the A123's automotive and grid assets in January. Forcier, who was vice president of A123's automotive business unit before the Wanxiang deal, will now oversee A123's battery cell and transportation sales as well as its global product development and manufacturing operations, the company said in a news release.

Lithium-ion batteries use plastics extensively, including the inner layer of each prismatic cell.

Forcier will also serve on the company's board of directors with Pin Ni, CEO of Wanxiang's U.S. subsidiary Wanxiang America Corp. in Elgin, Ill., and Tom Corcoran, an independent turnaround consultant.

Now headquartered in Livonia, Mich., A123 maintains its plants in Livonia and Romulus, Mich., as well as the former headquarters in Waltham, Mass., which is now its main research and development facility.

Since closing the deal in February, A123 has been in restructuring mode, cutting headcount and lowering operating costs, Forcier said.

A123 expects $200 million in revenue this year and is projecting to break even for the first time in 2015, Forcier said.

Forcier said A123 is expecting to supply 100,000 low-voltage batteries within the next couple of years. It has current contracts with McLaren Automotive, Ferrari SpA and Daimler AG.

"The huge projections on EVs have become much more moderate; and we've seen an evolution of the combustion engine," Forcier said. "Due to fuel regulations in the U.S. and Europe, automakers are forced to improve fuel economy 4 percent to 5 percent a year on a global basis.

A123's existing lithium-ion business continues to supply General Motors Co.'s Chevy Spark, BMW's hybrid 3-, 5- and 7-Series vehicles, and to China automaker SAIC Motor Corp. Ltd. It also supplies lithium-ion batteries to truck makers Daimler, Smith and Tata Motors Ltd.

For a complete version of this story, see Crain's Detroit Business.