Like several other vehicle companies, Winnebago Industries will have its own lithium-ion battery business to fuel its move into electric RVs and boats.
The Eden Prairie-based company is buying Lithionics Battery, based in Clearwater, Fla. The 13-year-old private company will become an independent, wholly owned subsidiary of the recreational vehicle maker and will retain its other customers.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the purchase will close sometime in Winnebago's third quarter, which ends May 27.
Last year, Winnebago introduced an eRV electric concept vehicle at a major industry trade show. At the same show this year, it said it now has several prototypes on the road getting real-world feedback from consumers. The company this year also introduced an all-electric 25-foot Chris-Craft Launch 25 GTe concept.
Winnebago says it uses some of Lithionics' products already to power the house portion in its eRV2 prototype vehicles. Those batteries are not used in the engine of the vehicles.
"The addition of Lithionics enhances Winnebago Industries' ability to develop unique and diverse battery solutions across our portfolio, advancing our overall electrical ecosystem, driving organic growth and supply-chain security, reinforcing our technological competitive advantage and allowing us to capitalize on consumer preferences for fully immersive, off-the-grid outdoor experiences," said Michael Happe, Winnebago's chief executive, in a news release.
After the deal closes, Lithionics' management team — including CEO Steve Tartaglia — will continue to run the business, and the company's 60 employees will be retained.
Lithionics uses its battery and battery-management systems in the recreational vehicle industry as replacements for generators used to power the house portions of RVs. Its technology and products are also used in the marine industry for low-speed electric vehicles, and in industrial and energy storage settings.
"There is significant opportunity to expand the use of Lithionics' efficient energy solutions within Winnebago Industries' own portfolio — across both the RV and marine segments," said Ashis Bhattacharya, the senior vice president in charge of Winnebago's Advanced Technology Group.
Auto companies including Ford, General Motors and Tesla are investing billions in lithium or lithium battery production as vehicle manufacturers are increasingly adding EVs to their portfolios.
Bloomington-based Toro also has greatly expanded its no-compromise electric vehicle options of professional lawn and ice management products and its growing lineup of Flex-Force battery-powered lawn care and snowblower products for the residential market.