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A123 Systems, the developer and manufacturer of lithium ion batteries for automotive use—in the past few months it has announced contracts with Eaton Corp. to provide batteries for a Ford F550-based plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) and Navistar for the purpose-built eStar electric vehicle—announced today that it has received TS 16949 certification for its design and manufacturing processes as related to its cylindrical lithium ion cells. (The certification is an auto-specific variant of the more widely known ISO 90001.) Said A123 CEO David Vieau, “Combined with our North America manufacturing build out, this important certification further demonstrates that we meet the most stringent quality standards and have the high-volume production capability required by today’s international automotive industry.” When you take this into account, combine it with today’s groundbreaking for a $300-million lithium ion manufacturing plant by LG Chem in Holland, Michigan, and add in yesterday’s Volt battery announcement, it is becoming increasingly hard for anyone to be skeptical about the move toward alternative powertrain systems.

A123 Systems, the developer and manufacturer of lithium ion batteries for automotive use—in the past few months it has announced contracts with Eaton Corp. to provide batteries for a Ford F550-based plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) and Navistar for the purpose-built eStar electric vehicle—announced today that it has received TS 16949 certification for its design and manufacturing processes as related to its cylindrical lithium ion cells. (The certification is an auto-specific variant of the more widely known ISO 90001.)

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Said A123 CEO David Vieau, “Combined with our North America manufacturing build out, this important certification further demonstrates that we meet the most stringent quality standards and have the high-volume production capability required by today’s international automotive industry.”

When you take this into account, combine it with today’s groundbreaking for a $300-million lithium ion manufacturing plant by LG Chem in Holland, Michigan, and add in yesterday’s Volt battery announcement, it is becoming increasingly hard for anyone to be skeptical about the move toward alternative powertrain systems.

To be sure, the numbers will be small to begin with.  And, yes, compared with the cars and trucks that most people have become familiar with throughout their entire lifetimes, there will be compromises.  Yet not only will the hybrids and full EVs be driven by government regulations—perhaps more strongly than consumer demand—there is something else that should be taken into account: the nature of innovation.

Consider, for example, the iPod.  As any audiophile will tell you, compared with other media for music—including vinyl—the iPod under delivers from an audio standpoint.  People have made compromises for the benefits.  And how does Apple feel about that. . .?