LIVONIA, MI - A123 Systems, a manufacturer of advanced lithium-ion batteries and systems, on Sept. 13 held a grand-opening ceremony for what the company said is the largest lithium-ion automotive production facility in North America.

Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm was among the ceremony attendees.

The opening of A123 Systems' Livonia factory comes just over one year after the company was awarded a $249 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

"Bringing this factory on line in just over a year is a testament to our technology innovation and strategic plan to ramp up manufacturing, but it also speaks to the maturity of the market -- without significant customer demand for our products today, a capacity expansion of this magnitude would not be possible," said David Vieau, president and CEO of A123 Systems.

A123 will focus on manufacturing prismatic cells and systems at the new 291,000-square-foot Livonia facility. The factory is designed to enable the complete production process, including research and development, manufacturing of components, cell fabrication, module fabrication and the final assembly of complete battery packs ready for vehicle integration.

A123 also plans to open a coating plant in Romulus, Mich. That facility is expected to come on line during the first half of 2011. In addition to the DOE grant, the company received $125 million in state incentives from Michigan as part of its 21st Century Jobs Fund to help finance these manufacturing facilities.

A123's growing list of customers includes BAE, Eaton, Fisker, Navistar, Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. (SAIC) and other global automakers and heavy-duty vehicle manufacturers. The company is headquartered in Massachusetts.