Canadian battery maker Electrovaya Inc. has won a contract with Chrysler Group LLC to provide lithium-ion batteries for a plug-in hybrid version of the auto maker's Dodge Ram pickup truck.
Chrysler will build 140 of the trucks in a three-year demonstration project under a $48-million (U.S.) grant from the U.S. government's vehicle-electrification program.
The contract with Chrysler was announced yesterday as Electrovaya appointed former Chrysler president Tom LaSorda as a special adviser to its chief executive officer Sankar Das Gupta and a member of the company's board of directors.
Mr. LaSorda, who was vice-chairman and president of Chrysler group and a veteran of more than 20 years at General Motors Corp., will advise Mr. Das Gupta and the Mississauga-based company on growth strategy, including alliances and business development.
"Tom brings extensive management experience and industry knowledge to Electrovaya as it develops key partnerships within the global auto industry and as it navigates a period of exceptional market growth," Mr. Das Gupta, who is the company's majority owner, with about 65 per cent of its shares, said in a statement.
Electrovaya, founded in 1996, is one of scores of companies seeking to gain a leading position as the auto industry turns increasingly to electric vehicles as one option to meet stringent fuel-economy and emission standards that will come into force later this decade.
Electrovaya is also working with Tata Motors Ltd. of India and Hero Electric, part of the world's largest manufacturer of two-wheeled vehicles.
Besides lithium-ion batteries, Electrovaya also builds storage systems for electricity created by renewable power sources such as wind, solar and tidal. It has manufacturing facilities in Canada and the United States, and customers around the world.
The news of the Chrysler deal and Mr. LaSorda's appointment helped send Electrovaya's share price up more than 12 per cent yesterday on the Toronto Stock Exchange.
Mr. LaSorda said he is looking forward to helping Electrovaya grow and praised its ecofriendly approach and cutting-edge technology.
"This is an exciting time for Electrovaya and the industry as it transitions to adopt more efficient, cleaner technologies in the production of new vehicles," he said in a statement.
Mr. LaSorda, who was born and raised in Windsor, Ont., retired from Chrysler as it went into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the United States, before Italian auto maker Fiat SpA took a 20-per-cent equity stake in the No. 3 Detroit auto maker and management control of Chrysler.
Since then, Mr. Lasorda's most public auto endeavour was working with industry entrepreneur Roger Penske on a deal to take over Saturn from GM. That deal fell apart when Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. rejected an agreement to manufacture cars for Saturn.
Chrysler said yesterday that while it will build the plug-in hybrid Dodge Rams, it has cancelled a plan to assemble hybrid versions of the trucks. "The company could not formulate an appropriate business case," Chrysler said in a statement.
Chrysler's first electric vehicle under Fiat's management control will be an electric version of the Fiat 500 subcompact.
The gasoline-powered version of the car will go on sale in Canada and the United States late this year and will be assembled for the U.S. market beginning in 2012.
With files from CP