As I watch the press run with PHEVs of EVs or GEVs or whatever you want to call them, I can’t but be reminded of some Public Enemy lyrics: Don’t believe the hype.
A123 does have some impressive technology, although from my analyses and from what I have seen at conferences, they have some definite faults, but nearly all Li-ion chemistries do. As a business, however, I think that they have made a number of mistakes from the outset. Before I begin my list, let me clarify that I am a scientist, not a business man, so maybe this is more of a rant, but here is what I think they did wrong (in no order):
1) Tied themselves to LiFePO4
2) Didn’t think out the patent issues with UT, Hydro Quebec/Phostech, and/or Valence
3) Really worked the “nano” angle
4) Tried to go right to direct production in China as opposed to a small pilot line in the states initially
5) Tried to do all production in China at one site when China is the “Wild West” for IP
6) Tied everything to a cylindrical form factor, and only after losing the initial Volt contract thought about different envelopes
7) Got too big too fast
8) Tied a vast majority of their business to industries that are tied to general consumers, i.e. cars and power tools
9) Tied their EV hopes to Chrysler
10) IPO timing
11) So much PR
I am sure that there are other things that I am missing, but I can always add in the comments. I might be way off on all of this, so take my view with a grain of salt.