Saft America advanced lithium-ion batteries plant opens in Jacksonville

Secretary Steven Chu joined with Saft America to announce the grand opening of the company’s Jacksonville, Florida, factory, which will produce advanced lithium-ion batteries to power electric cars and other applications.

Saft America estimates it will create nearly 280 permanent jobs at the factory, and the city of Jacksonville expects an additional 800 indirect jobs to be created within its community. The project has created or preserved an estimated 300 construction jobs.

Supported in part through Department of Energy investments, batteries produced at the new facility will go into electric drive vehicles for American families. They will also be used to power military hybrid vehicles and for other industrial, agricultural, and military applications. Saft expects to produce 370 MW hours of battery power a year — the equivalent of supplying more than 37,000 electric vehicles.

Saft America Incorporated’s Industrial Battery Group won a $95.5 million DOE grant under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009 and provided an additional $95.5 million in cost share to build the new 235,000 square foot battery factory capable of manufacturing high quantities of lithium-ion cells, modules, and batteries.

This project is part of the Recovery Act’s $2 billion investments in battery and electric drive component manufacturing, supporting 20 battery and 10 component manufacturing factories.

At full scale, these investments will support factories with the capacity to supply more than 500,000 electric drive vehicles. These factories are helping build a domestic electric-drive vehicle industry — the U.S. produced less than 2 percent of the world’s batteries in 2008. By the end of 2012, it is estimated that the U.S. will have the capacity to produce 20 percent of the world’s advanced vehicle batteries.

These factories are also lowering costs. By 2013, these factories will help cut battery costs in half, making electric-drive vehicles much more affordable for Americans. Additional DOE investments in R&D will continue this type of innovation well beyond 2015, providing a long-term path for a competitive industry.