GM, A123Systems To Improve Chevy Volt Battery
|Topics: Chevrolet Volt
August 16, 2007
General Motors Corp. and A123Systems, in their joint-venture, will co-develop cells with A123System's nanophosphate battery chemistry. The improved technology is intended to produce long-lasting, powerful and safe auto batteries. The venture also is expected to expedite the development of the batteries for both electric plug-in vehicles and GM E-Flex variants like the Chevy Volt.
The contract calls for A123Systems, of Watertown, Mass., to develop battery cells to meet the specific requirements of the E-Flex architecture. A123Systems is considered a forerunner in the development of nanophosphate-based cell technology, which, compared to other lithium-ion battery chemistries, provides a higher power output, longer life and safer operations over the life of the battery.
Currently, A123Systems manufactures over ten million cells each year making it the largest producer of batteries with nanophosphate chemistry worldwide. Most of these cells are used in rechargeable power tools. GM, on the other hand, is also a leading producer of E-85 capable bio-fuel vehicles, with more than two million on the road. Additionally, GM provides more vehicles that achieve 30 mpg highway than any other manufacturer in the U.S. market.
"Breakthrough battery technology will drive future automotive propulsion, and the company that aligns with the best strategic partners will win. That’s what is so important about this deal,” said Bob Lutz, the GM vice chairman of Global Product Development. “Whether you’re talking about the Chevy Volt, a fuel cell or even a plug-in hybrid such as our planned Saturn Vue, we need to understand the fundamental battery cell performance.”
The E-Flex electric vehicle architecture was incorporated in the Chevy Volt concept car revealed earlier this year. For average commuters driving 40 miles, the concept car will use zero gasoline and produce zero emissions. "The Chevy Volt will lead the automotive industry in a new direction,” Lutz said. “We see a future where vehicles run on electricity and are equipped with clever ways of making electricity on board, making us less dependent on gasoline. It's the next great paradigm shift in our industry, an opportunity largely due to the rapid advancement in battery cell technology by companies such as A123Systems and LG Chem.”
According to A123Systems, the improved battery technology is an effort to diversify the transportation away from petroleum with a range of alternatives. Diverse lineup of GM hybrid models is now in production. The offers include the diesel hybrid electric system for large city buses, the Saturn Vue and Saturn Aura Green Line hybrid models and the all-new Chevy Malibu hybrid.
Coming this fall, the Chevrolet Tahoe and the GMC Yukon Hybrid SUVs feature the world’s first 2-Mode hybrid system in an SUV, providing up to a 40-percent improvement in city driving fuel economy to what is already the industry’s most fuel-efficient full-size SUVs, the report continued. In 2008, the largest American automaker will roll out a front-wheel-drive 2-Mode hybrid Saturn Vue Green Line, with plans to make a plug-in version of the Vue that can double the fuel efficiency of any current GM sport utility. With these offerings, Saturn headlights may shine brightest next year.
Shandong Jindalu and ZAP, meanwhile, are seeking to scale up production for their auto industry venture in China. The existing factory has 1,000 vehicles per month manufacturing capacity, but the refined factory will help bolster quality and efficiency with four times the production.
"Our research over the past 12 years tells us that new approaches to transportation like the XEBRA are possible. Scientists, climate and pollution data, the current political state of affairs, as well as the price of oil are telling us that we must change our ways," said ZAP Chairman Gary Starr.
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