Battery maker A123 files for bankruptcy protection


by Laura Matovina

DETROIT (AP) -- Electric-car battery maker A123 Systems has filed for bankruptcy protection and reached a deal to sell its automotive assets. The moves come after weak sales and rising losses.

Auto parts maker Johnson Controls will pay $125 million for A123's auto business, which includes two Michigan factories and lithium-ion battery technology.

A123's financial problems reflect the challenges facing the electric-car industry. Americans have been slow to buy the vehicles because they're expensive, and many models have limited range and can run out of power on longer trips.

The bankruptcy filing also spawned more Republican criticism of the Obama administration, which used stimulus money to support alternative energy businesses including solar-panel maker Solyndra. A spokeswoman for Republican Mitt Romney's campaign, said in an e-mail that the bankruptcy is, quoting here, "yet another failure for the President's disastrous strategy of gambling away billions of taxpayer dollars on a strategy of government-led growth that simply does not work."

A123's government grant was never supposed to be repaid. The company had to match the money as it was used. So far it has received $132 million of the grant, according to an Energy Department spokeswoman.


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