Battery Maker Boston-Power Raises Money, Triples Production

sonatabattery11.jpgVenture capitalists have plugged a massive $45 million into a Westborough, Mass.-based battery maker Boston-Power. The three-year-old startup’s rechargeable lithium ion batteries for laptops take an energy-efficient, traditional stance on being greener — the company says that compared to traditional batteries, which keep their full power for a half a year or so, its Sonata “next-generation” lithium ion keeps full power for a good three years.

This was the company’s Series C funding; it was led by Oak Investment Partners, with participation from Venrock, Granite Global Ventures and Gabriel Venture Partners. Boston-Power has now raised more than $68 million.

CEO Christina Lampe-Onnerud tells us that the company just started production of its battery packs at the end of 2007, and raised funding to help the company meet the orders of its laptop maker customers. The company is tripling production of Sonata, and is working with Hewlett-Packard.

Given the TSA’s new rulings on size and travel requirements of lithium batteries, and a lot of media discussion over the years about exploding batteries, we asked Lampe-Onnerud what she thought about the safety concerns of her industry. Lampe-Onnerud says that all the discussion over the safety of lithium batteries in the media has been “doing the consumer right,” and has effectively pushed battery makers to be very strict about the safety of their products.

On the safety of Boston-Power’s Sonata, Lampe-Onnerud says the company has fail-safe mechanisms that shut it down in various circumstances — like, say, when it’s placed next to a barbeque.

The battery is a premium product, so the company’s laptop manufacturer partners will be paying slightly more for it than traditional batteries. That could be the sticking point for a large laptop maker focused on cutting costs. But we’re waiting for the battery to be available in many more laptops this year, so we can start using it on that flight from San Francisco to New York.

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