Battery Makers Charge Ahead In Michigan

January 28, 2009

Late last year, Michigan passed some interesting tax incentives for battery manufacturers--specifically those working on batteries for vehicle powertrains. A couple of weeks ago, we mentioned that one company had already taken advantage of the new laws, and now we're happy to hear that another has joined the ranks: Ricardo, Inc. The company has launched a $2 million Battery Systems Development Center that takes NiMH, Li-ion, and other cells cells from third-party manufacturers and packages them into modules using smarter, more efficient technology. No word yet on which companies Ricardo will be making the packs for; even though someone else got the contract on the Chevy Volt, there are plenty of other options out there.

As if that weren't enough good news for one day, Democrats in the U.S. senate have taken a cue from Michigan's early success and are pushing to use $2 billion of Obama's proposed $825 billion stimulus bill to fund grants and loans for battery research. (Specifically, $1 billion would be made available for grants, the other $1 billion for loans.) Not surprisingly, automakers seem elated by the proposal--after all, it may be the best news D.C. has for them for a while.

And for anyone who saw the name "Ricardo" and immediately thought of a different sort of factory, here's a little clip. We don't expect Ricardo, Inc.'s assembly line to look anything like this:

[sources: AutoNews sub req'd; DetNews]

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