Novi plucks advanced battery show from California

Posted on August 25, 2011

A major advanced battery show is moving from San Jose, Calif., to Metro Detroit this October and in 2012 after organizers decided they wanted to be closer to the heart of the battery systems and electric vehicle industry.

The three-day show, which will feature up to 160 exhibition booths on electric vehicles, utility storage and more, is expected to draw more than 3,000 people at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, up from about 1,400 last year in California, said Adam Moore, exhibition director for “The Battery Show.” It is the largest battery show of its kind in the nation, according to the Michigan Economic Development Corp.

“With the investment that the Big Three motor companies have put into electric vehicle programs, it was an easy decision to move the show to the capital of the advanced battery industry, which is now also the center of the electric vehicle industry,” said Moore, who is also corporate sales director for Smarter Shows, an international exhibition and conference organizer in Brighton, England.

The Oct. 25-27 battery show and two other auto-related expositions will fill the Novi showplace’s 215,000 square feet of exhibit space, as well as its conference and social function space, and attract an anticipated 7,000 to 8,000 visitors, said showplace owner Blair Bowman. As a result, Metro Detroit’s economy will get a short-term boost.

“We fully expect that this event will have the largest economic impact of any single time frame and collection of events that have occurred at our facility in the last six years,” said Bowman, who added that area restaurants and hotels will benefit.

Michigan is home to more than 35 advanced battery companies and suppliers for battery systems and electric vehicles, more than any other state, said Martin Dober, senior vice president of entrepreneurship and innovation for the MEDC, which helped woo the conference from Silicon Valley and is finalizing a small sponsorship of the show.

The Michigan companies have committed more than $5.7 billion in capital investment and expect to create 20,000 new jobs in the next 10 years, according to the MEDC.

Dober said the battery show also will give the MEDC a chance to pitch Michigan to companies and suppliers attending from out of state.

The international event is expected to draw attendance from at least 35 different countries, Moore said.

“It’s a business-to-business show, and I think there’s a number of companies … looking at the advanced battery industry as a huge growth area,” he said, adding conference sessions will run concurrently on technology innovations and the business of advanced battery technology.

The Battery Show has locked in to the Suburban Collection Showplace in 2012 and expects to stay in Michigan for the foreseeable future, Moore said.

The show originally chose California for being a green and clean technology state, Moore said, noting the electric vehicle advancement from Palo Alto, Calif.-based Tesla Motors and the state’s solar and wind power industries.

The show became not only about battery products, but about the supply chain, he said.

“The move to Michigan was made because that’s where the manufacturing takes place,” Moore said.

Michigan is projected to make about 20 percent of the world’s lithium-ion batteries, as the market for battery-powered hybrid and electricvehicles grows to an estimated 1.7 million vehicles by 2015.

General Motors Co.’s plug-in Chevrolet Volt and Ford Motor Co.’s Ford Focus Electric are made in Michigan.

Battery maker A123 Systems Inc. recently hired its 1,000th Michigan worker, while Midland-based Dow Kokam, one of the show’s sponsors, expects in first quarter 2012 it will start production of its cell manufacturing facility in Midland, which will produce 600 million watt hours a year, or the equivalent of powering 30,000 electric vehicles.

Batteries also have significant growth potential across multiple applications such as utility, defense and industrial, said Chuck Reardon, commercial vice president of Dow Kokam, who will participate on a battery show panel.

Landing the show in Michigan “reflects the significant role that Michigan is going to play in driving the continued growth and innovation of advanced batteries and energy storage,” Reardon said.

By Melissa Burden, The Detroit News