Big Battery Maker to Hire 400 Workers in Michigan

Industrials Reuters

Lithium-ion battery maker A123 Systems Inc plans to hire up to 400 people over the next several months in response to increased business in its commercial transportation and grid operations.

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The new jobs will be at A123's two Michigan factories in Livonia and Romulus. The company plans to hire about 100 workers a month, spokesman Dan Borgasano said.

In Livonia, A123 makes prismatic cells used in its lithium-ion batteries, typically for vehicles. Now the company is seeing demand for "prismatic-based systems" among commercial transportation and power-grid customers, Borgasano said.

Shares of A123 were up 1 percent at $1 in morning trading.

The company has contracts to make batteries for Fisker Automotive, General Motors Co and BMW.

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The announcement comes even as A123 told U.S. securities regulators last month that there was "substantial doubt" about its viability because it expects to burn through cash and report steep losses over the next several quarters.

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The losses stem from A123's recall of defective batteries built at the Livonia plant. The flaw came to light earlier this year when a Fisker Karma plug-in hybrid with an A123 battery failed during a test by Consumer Reports magazine.

The repairs will cost nearly $67 million and force A123 to rebuild its inventory. The company also makes batteries for the BMW hybrid 3- and 5-Series cars and GM's all-electric Chevy Spark, which is due in 2013.