Westborough Battery Firm is 'Philosophically Driven'
Boston-Power is gearing up to supply electric batteries to China's fifth-largest automaker
Westborough business owner Dr. Christina Lampe-Onnerud calls herself "pretty philosophically driven."
Soon, vehicles manufactured by China's fifth-largest automaker will be powered by electric batteries generated by Lampe-Onnerud's vision.
On Aug. 8, Boston-Power Inc. announced a multi-year deal to provide batteries to the Beijing Electric Vehicle Company, part of the Beijing Automotive Industry Company.
"Reflecting a long-standing working relationship between the two companies, it is projected that Boston-Power’s battery systems will be used in hundreds of electric vehicles (EVs) starting in 2012 and thousands of EVs by 2014," the press release says.
Lampe-Onnerud, of Framingham, says the deal is one reflection of her interest in being "part of the solution to the climate change challenge."
"I feel like our company has made a small contribution in this huge problem to be solved," Lampe-Onnerud, the company's founder and international chairman, said during a recent interview in her office.
Lampe-Onnerud said she started Boston-Power Inc., at 2200 West Park Drive, off Research Drive, in 2005.
She has since shifted the company's focus from Western to Eastern markets because China's national policies "especially, are really, really clear."
"They have an energy problem, and that electric transportation is one of the key milestones for the nation to achieve, by pretty aggressive dates," Lampe-Onnerud said.
"Since we have a high-performing technology and they have an automotive industry that is very much encouraged to work with innovators, it proved to be a very interesting and very fruitful discussion."
The battery cells are made in Taiwan, assembled into building blocks, and then sent to Beijing, she said.
A factory "the size of an American football field" outside Shanghai will begin running at the end of this year, with the first shipments early 2013.
"Most of the past year, most of the American leadership has transitioned into Chinese leadership in Beijing," Lampe-Onnerud said.
Boston-Power's research and development, and North American sales teams, remain in Westborough
"We still have, basically, the technical leadership all here," Lampe-Onnerud said.
Electric cars have become more popular since 2005, when "no automotive company really spoke about electric cars," she said.
"In 2010, if you didn't have an electric car on your floor in an auto show, you were not a player," Lampe-Onnerud said.
"Today, a company like ours can secure very large and very valuable deals and partnerships that basically turns us into a global player."
However, Lampe-Onnerud is in the process of leaving Boston Power's driver's seat.
She stepped down as CEO last year, and will finish the transition, perhaps this fall.
She said she did not want to relocate to China, and "I think it's better if you have major Chinese customers to have Chinese leaders."
"I'm young. I'm not retiring. I think there are some very large problems left to be solved. I'll probably take a break, think a little bit about those," Lampe-Onnerud said.
"Spiritually, I'll be aligned with this company for life. But I think there are a lot of things that were really wonderful lessons that were learned on this journey."