A123 buys Leyden battery tech, which may be used in Chinese parent's EVs

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NEW YORK (Bloomberg) -- A123 Systems LLC, the battery maker bought by Wanxiang Group Corp. after it sought bankruptcy protection in 2012, purchased technology from Leyden Energy Inc. that the Chinese parent may use to make electric cars.

The deal includes more than 20 patents and some employees from Leyden who will relocate from California to A123’s research facility in Massachusetts, Jeff Kessen, a spokesman for the suburban Detroit company, said Monday in a telephone interview. A123 paid “fair market value,” Kessen said, referring to the intellectual property acquisition, while declining to disclose the price.

Leyden’s nonflammable electrolyte and lithium titanate technologies allow for faster charges and discharges, which may be useful in batteries for vehicles, Kessen said. A123 previously developed batteries for Fisker Automotive Holdings Inc., which also was purchased by closely held Wanxiang, China’s largest maker of auto parts.

Lu Guanqiu, chairman and founder of Wanxiang, has said he plans to build electric vehicles in the United States, and later in China, to compete with Tesla Motors Inc. China is the world’s largest auto market.

“We see some applications in automotive” for the Leyden technology, Kessen said. “We’re further investing in having some of the most powerful batteries available.”

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