TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) _ General Motors Corp. has signed an
agreement with a battery maker that could propel it ahead of Toyota
Motor Corp. in the race to bring plug-in hybrid and electric cars to
market, a top company official said Thursday.
A123 Systems Inc., based in Watertown, Mass., already produces
thousands of nanophosphate lithium-ion batteries for use in cordless
power tools, and it plans to apply the technology to automobiles.
GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz said the deal, coupled with a published
report that Toyota Motor Corp. would delay launches of lithium-ion
battery powered hybrids for up to two years, could give GM the lead
in bringing the new clean technology to market.
``I think that our No. one competitor has some problems with
their technology, and I do think that it very definitely opens a
window of opportunity for us to be first to market with a genuine
plug-in hybrid,'' Lutz said at an automotive industry conference in
Traverse City where the battery deal was announced.
The Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with Toyota
strategy that it didn't name, reported Thursday that problems with
lithium-ion technology forced Toyota to back away from plans to roll
out the vehicles between 2008 and 2010. Toyota's current hybrids use
A message seeking comment was left Thursday with Toyota.
Lutz said the lithium-ion battery being discussed by GM is
different than one that Toyota would use.
Lutz also is hoping to be first to market with a pure electric
vehicle that has a piston engine as an emergency backup, similar to
the Chevrolet Volt prototype that the company unveiled at the North
American International Auto Show in Detroit in January.
A123 expects to have the batteries, which would be flat and
similar in appearance to those that power cell phones, ready for GM
to test in vehicles by October. GM still hopes to have an electric
car on the market by 2010.