Large-format lithium-ion battery maker Ener1, Inc. has received $20 million in fresh investment capital from ITOCHU Corporation, a Japanese commercial trading giant with deep ties in the automotive, utility and renewable energy industries. ITOCHU purchased 3.2 million shares of common stock from Ener1 at a price of $6.18 per share.
Ener1 produces high-performance battery systems for the automotive and electric utility markets through its EnerDel subsidiary in Indianapolis, Indiana. In August, the company received a $118 million cost-share grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, which will be used to help double the company’s domestic production capacity.
“ITOCHU has been an invaluable strategic partner for Ener1, supplying capital at important phases in the company’s growth and granting vital access to materials and equipment,” said Charles Gassenheimer, Ener1 chairman and CEO, in a statement. “Their deeply rooted relationships with many of the world’s leading companies involved in grid storage and electric drive continues to foster new relationships and open doors to compelling commercial opportunities.”
Ener1 and ITOCHU are already partnering with Mazda Corporation and the THINK electric car maker in a project to link grid storage, electric vehicles, recharging infrastructure and solar power. The two are also involved in a project to convert Japanese postal trucks in the Kanagawa and Tokyo Prefectures.
Ener1 develops and manufactures compact, high performance lithium-ion batteries to power the next generation of hybrid, plug-in hybrid and pure electric vehicles. In addition to the automobile market, applications for Ener1 lithium-ion battery technology include the military, grid storage and other growing markets.
Ener1also develops commercial fuel cell products through its EnerFuel subsidiary and nanotechnology-based materials and manufacturing processes for batteries and other applications through its NanoEner subsidiary.