‘Wanxiang and Ener1 share a vision to help fulfill our country’s strong commitment to electric vehicles on a mass scale and to deploy lithium-ion technology to improve the effectiveness of the power grid,’ said Lu Guanqiu, founder and chairman of Wanxiang Group. ‘We believe our manufacturing expertise and deep customer relationships throughout China and in the region will help ensure the success of this timely technology venture.’
The signing takes place against the background of a state visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao and expanding U.S.-China bilateral initiatives to spur cooperation in transportation electrification and grid energy storage, a hallmark of the Obama administration’s policy toward China. The Chinese government, anticipating the environmental and oil demand impact of potentially hundreds of millions of new vehicle purchases by a burgeoning middle class, has set an annual production goal of 500,000 hybrid or all-electric cars and buses by 2012.
The new venture – Zhejiang Wanxiang Ener1 Power System Co., Ltd – will use Wanxiang Electric Vehicle’s existing 553,000-square-foot facility in Hangzhou. The joint enterprise is expected to achieve annual cell manufacturing capacity of 300 million Ampere hours (approximately 40,000 electric vehicle battery packs) annually by 2014.
‘We are honored and excited to enter into this important new venture with one of China’s most respected industrial leaders,’ commented Ener1 Chairman and CEO Charles Gassenheimer, referring to Wanxiang’s emergence from a small business to the second-largest private company in China and the country’s largest tier-one auto parts supplier with $10 billion in annual revenue. ‘This joint venture gives us scalability by leveraging an existing manufacturing facility and an established broad customer base. Applying our advanced battery technology will enable us to hit the ground running in serving what is potentially the largest advanced battery market in the world.’
Wanxiang Electric Vehicle will have a 60-percent equity stake in the joint venture. The company will contribute property, plant, equipment, and customer relationships, including State Grid, SAIC Motor, Dongfeng Motor, Guangzhou Auto and Yutong.
As part of its 40-percent stake, Ener1 will provide intellectual property, engineering, manufacturing and technical expertise. The joint venture will help further expand Ener1’s global footprint, and increase the company’s head count through the addition of R&D and engineering staff in the U.S.
‘We are very fortunate to be able to work in partnership with a manufacturing giant in one of the fastest-growing markets in the world for Li-ion technology,’ Gassenheimer commented. ‘A combination of industrial policy, explosive growth potential and vision make this a winning proposition for both sides.’
Ener1, Inc. is a publicly traded (Nasdaq: HEV) energy technology company that develops compact, lithium-ion-powered battery solutions for the transportation, utility grid storage and consumer markets. Headquartered in New York City, the company has more than 700 employees with manufacturing locations in the United States and Korea. Ener1 also develops commercial fuel cell products, nanotechnology-based materials and manufacturing processes. In collaboration with strategic partner and electric vehicle manufacturer THINK, Ener1 also manufactures electric vehicle drive train products.
Wanxiang Group was founded by Dr. Lu Guanqiu, who is regarded as a legendary entrepreneur in China for taking $500 in start-up capital in 1969 to create a farm tool repair shop and transforming it into one of the largest non-government-owned companies in China. The company is the country’s largest automotive components manufacturer, and a conglomerate with more than $10 billion (USD) in revenue covering businesses including financial services, alternative energies, agricultural products, international trading, natural resources, real estate, private equity and venture capital investment, and other areas. Wanxiang Group currently employs more than 30,000 employees worldwide, with 19 companies in 9 countries and a sales and marketing network covering over 50 countries. The Boston Consulting Group has listed Wanxiang Group as one of the 100 most challenging and successful companies in China.