Reuters reported this morning that clean tech investments have risen substantially this year. In the third quarter report just released, there were 112 deals totaling $1.9 billion that included investments in solar power, smart grids, biofuels, green building materials, and electric car technology.
Much of this enthusiasm is believed to be led by a new IPO entry in the clean stock market, A123. A123 stock increased 50% since last week and it is billed as “the most attractive” of recent public offerings.
The company has a versatile business model, starting out in 2001 as a way to commercialize patented battery technology developed at MIT. Their battery systems can be used in a wide variety of electrical vehicles, including hybrids, plug-in hybrids, full battery electrics, and fuel-cell vehicles.
I have been following A123 for the past couple of years as part of my research into companies that are helping to green the U.S. auto sector. Initially, American auto companies were were not interested. So A123 started to explore the power tool sector and formed a partnership with Black & Decker to increase the energy efficiency of their products. From there, they also started working with another company, BAE systems, to optimize hybrid battery technology for buses. This technology doubled the fuel efficiency of buses and is now in use by New York City’s MTA system.
Now, A123 has established a number of partnerships with automakers that want to integrate their technology into their electric vehicles, including Chrysler with their latest ENVI line of range-extended and battery electric vehicles (shown in picture at this year’s New York Auto Show). They also currently offer the only crash-tested and warrantied plug-in hybrid Prius conversions available for consumers and fleets alike. In fact, you can contact any of their dealers and convert your previous today into a plug-in.
Companies like A123 true leaders playing a key role in the integration of clean technology within established, polluting sectors. It’s refreshing to see that their hard work is paying off.
Shannon Arvizu is currently finishing her Ph.D. dissertation on the clean tech movement in the U.S. auto sector at Columbia University. You can follow her test drives in the cars of the future at www.misselectric.com.