Battery maker A123 names new CEO, reorganizes

Reuters

DETROIT, Oct 10 (Reuters) - Electric car battery maker A123Systems LLC named a new chief executive and outlined itsstructure as it moves forward after being purchased inbankruptcy by a Chinese company.

The maker of lithium-ion batteries used in electric cars has named Jason Forcier as CEO and a member of the company's board,overseeing all battery and transportation business, productdevelopment and manufacturing globally. He had been president ofA123's auto business.

A123 filed for bankruptcy last October due toweaker-than-expected demand for hybrid vehicles and technicalproblems, and the auto-related assets were purchased for $257million in January by China's largest auto parts maker, WanxiangGroup.

A123, which had been run by board members Pin Ni, presidentof Wanxiang America, and Tom Corcoran, announced the move onWednesday.

The company had received a $249 million grant from the U.S.government as part of a clean energy program to build manufacturing facilities in Michigan. About half the money wasnever released.

A123 makes batteries for BMW hybrid 3- and5-Series cars, and General Motors Co's all-electricChevrolet Spark. China's SAIC Motor Corp is also acustomer.

Forcier said in January that with Wanxiang's backing, A123would invest in areas where it sees growth, including batteriesfor hybrid and microhybrid vehicles. While the auto business wasexpected to make up half of the company's sales this year, theelectric grid unit was expected to become its largest businesswithin the next several years.

Forcier also said in January that A123 hoped to leverage itsties to Wanxiang into more business in China, where it operatesthrough a joint venture with SAIC Motor Corp Ltd.

Under the reorganization, the company said thetransportation business retains the A123 Systems brand and EdKopkowski was named president of the group. Mujeeb Ijaz wasappointed president of A123 Venture Technologies, which operatesthe company's research arm.

The board also oversees A123 Energy Solutions, which is thebusiness unit focused on grid energy storage and commercialapplications, the company said. Bud Collins remains president ofthat business.

The executive team of A123 will be headquartered at thecompany's Livonia, Michigan, facility, the company said.

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