General Motors Investing $28 Million to Expand its EV Battery Lab

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【Summary】GM is investing $28 million in its Warren, Michigan battery lab as the company continues to improve its EV battery technology.

Eric Walz    Oct 14, 2018 11:28 AM PT
General Motors Investing $28 Million to Expand its EV Battery Lab

Last October, General Motors CEO Marra Barra said the automaker would introduce 20 new electric car models by 2023. To support that mission, GM is investing $28 million in its Warren, Michigan battery lab as the company continues to improve its EV battery technology.

The improvements include adding new testing chambers and advanced equipment to its battery operations there, CEO Mary Barra said in a LinkedIn post Wednesday.

GM has already consolidated most of its battery testing under one roof after a $6 million expansion of battery lab at the Warren Technical Center that began in 2017. The completed expansion includes new heavy and mild battery abuse test areas in GM's battery lab. This fall, GM plans to add new test chambers and advanced equipment to accelerate development of next-generation battery architecture.

"Creating a world of zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion won't happen overnight, of course, but our journey to this future is underway," Barra said in the post. "We have the right team, technology, partners and manufacturing scale to make it happen."

To support the production increase, Barra wrote that a new LG Electronics facility in Hazel Park, Mich., will start making battery packs this fall to supply GM's Orion Assembly Plant where the Chevrolet Bolt EV is built.

GM enlisted the help of LG Corp. in 2015 to build a battery for the Chevrolet Bolt EV that would deliver more than 200 miles of driving range. The batteries for the Bolt are currently assembled by LG Electronics in South Korea.

Barra says GM has forged a partnership with a new LG Electronics plant in Hazel Park to begin providing battery packs this fall for the Bolt, built at GM's Orion Assembly. The new plant is expected to begin operations this month, according to an LG spokesman.

GM will also continue to source batteries for the Bolt from LG's facility in South Korea.

bolt 2018.jpg

The 2018 Chevy Bolt EV

Speaking at Citi's 2018 Global Technology Conference, Pam Fletcher, vice president of the automaker's global electric vehicle programs said that as demand for the Bolt increases in existing markets GM will announce more global markets for the EV "in the not-so-distant future."

Vehicles like the Bolt, an affordable EV with a purported 238 miles of driving range, are designed to drive the industry to an electrification "tipping point," Fletcher said.

"Instead of being passive, we want to be active in driving the tipping point," she said.

Barra also wrote that GM is working on a prototype vehicle capable of a 180-mile range that can charge in about 10 minutes. GM send the vehicle to Delta Electronics for official testing as part of a new U.S. Department of Energy initiative.

"As much as we have accomplished, innovation alone will not accelerate a zero-emissions future," she said in her remarks at the CERAWeek conference. "For acceptance of electric vehicles to increase faster, customers need to embrace them in a market where gas prices are relatively low, and with a cleaner electric grid to support them."

GM already announced two new electric vehicles for the Chinese market, the Buick Velite 6 EV and the Baojun E200. China is the world's largest EV market and GM expects it will be a large driver of global EV adoption.

GM also has battery lab in Shanghai, where the company is developing its next-generation EV battery technology.

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