Updates

Endicott battery manufacturer expects quick ramp-up after acquiring N.C. company Alevo

Here's an unusual twist: North Carolina's loss is now Endicott's gain.

Imperium3 NY, a lithium-ion battery company based at the Huron campus, will fast-track local production with the acquisition of almost-new equipment from a bankrupt North Carolina company.

The start-up announced it is buying the entire contents of the former Alevo battery plant in Concord, North Carolina, for pennies on the dollar and moving the entire operation to Endicott. Published reports indicate Imperium acquired $200 million worth of assets for $5 million in a bankruptcy auction.

Shalesh Upreti, Imperium chief, said the deal allows the company to advance its scheduled production and hiring timeline in Endicott. Buying the idled equipment puts the date of full production and the hiring a contingent of more than 200 employees months ahead of the original schedule. Initial production is now scheduled for the first half of 2019.

Imperium3 representatives said it has begun interviewing and hiring personnel necessary to relocate and set up the newly acquired equipment at Imperium's Endicott quarters. A full lithium-ion factory should be complete in Endicott within the next three to five months.

Swiss-based Alevo located its battery plant in a former Phillip Morris cigarette factory 20 miles north of Charlotte in 2014 with the expectation of employing up to 2,500 people. When it filed Chapter 11 this past August it employed 300 people, most of whom were promptly let go.

Imperium believes it can overcome the barriers that foiled Alevo with a more advanced and economical approach to battery technology and production. The company says it already has production commitments to companies in the automotive and renewables industries.

Imperium originally projected a $140 million investment in production equipment, workforce training and overseeing the exacting process necessary to assemble defect-free lithium-ion cells designed for use in the automotive industry and green energy projects. However, the acquisition of equipment at cut-rate prices will likely reduce the initial investment needed to start production.

 

Upreti has been on the Binghamton University campus for 10 years, researching advances in lithium-ion batteries under the guidance of Professor Stanley Whittingham, who has gained a worldwide reputation for his work in energy storage.

Upreti's early work has gained notice not only from the state's energy research agency, which awarded him $500,000 as part of an effort to jumpstart new technologies on the BU campus, but also drew attention from an Australian company that is a major supplier of lithium-ion battery components and a major Imperium investor.

Imperium is the first to graduate from Binghamton's Start-Up NY program with plans to expand from a fledgling enterprise into a promising business with a sizable investment from established outside investors.

New York is assisting the project with performance-based incentives: a $4.5 million Upstate Revitalization Initiative grant and $3.5 million in tax credits. Based on projected capital investments, the company is expected to also qualify for an estimated $5.85 million in state investment tax credits.

Charge CCCV, or C4V, the company with the intellectual property that serves as the core for Imperium, has patented and refined methods of storing renewable energy and a method of extending the life of lithium-ion batteries.