North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), Detroit, MI

Bob Lutz, General Motor’s Vice Chairman talked to me at the 2009 Detroit auto show about GMs revolutionary electric propulsion technology “ called Voltec.

Lutz also talked about why General Motors picked Korean based LG Chem, instead of the A123 battery company to provide the “innards” of the battery.  LG Chem and it’s Troy-based subsidiary, Compact Power, won the contract over a competing team made up of A123Systems Inc. of Massachusetts and German auto supplier Continental.

According to Lutz, General Motors decided to go with the prismatic style battery, and A123 makes cylindrical batteries while LG Chem makes prismatic batteries. The chemistry can be the same in both types, the difference is preferential to the Manufacturers platform.

The question that I didn’t ask Lutz:

A123 Systems is a spin-off of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Why is A123Systems submitting an application under the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Incentive Program to qualify for $1.84 billion in direct loans to support the construction of new world-class lithium-ion battery manufacturing facilities in the United States, with the first construction location in southeast Michigan if they didn’t get the GM award? Who will A123systems be working with?