GM boosts work on lithium-ion batteries for hybrids
TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. -- General Motors is expanding its work with A123
Systems Inc., a maker of lithium-ion batteries, to develop battery packs
for the automaker’s E-Flex hybrid powertrain architecture.
“I’m convinced that electrically driven vehicles is the next paradigm
shift in this industry,” GM product chief Bob Lutz said today at the
Management Briefing Seminars.
Today’s hybrid vehicles use nickel metal-hydride battery packs.
Lithium-ion batteries, commonly used in cellular phones and laptop
computers, offer more power from a smaller, lighter package.
The deal with A123Systems will help GM get vehicles such as the
Chevrolet Volt concept on the road sooner, Lutz said.
The Volt, which GM unveiled at the Detroit auto show in January, uses
the E-Flex powertrain architecture. E-Flex uses electric motors and
battery packs, and can be adapted to a variety of power sources, such as
internal combustion engines or fuel cells.
GM’s announcement of its deal with A123Systems came on the same day that
the Wall Street Journal reported that Toyota Motor Corp. was delaying
the launch of hybrid vehicles that use lithium-ion battery packs by at
least two years due to problems with the battery packs overheating and
posing a fire risk.
Toyota now is expected to start using lithium-ion batteries in 2011, the
paper reported. Toyota’s lithium-ion battery packs use different
chemistry than the packs made by A123Systems.
Overheating and fires have been a problem with lithium-ion batteries —
last year Dell Inc. recalled laptop computer batteries due to
A123Systems is working with German supplier Continental AG to develop
integrated lithium-ion battery packs for GM. The automaker is also
working with Korean battery maker LG Chem and its subsidiary, Compact
Power Inc., for lithium-ion battery packs.
GM said in January it was working with a venture between A123 Systems
and Cobasys, and Johnson Controls-Saft Advanced Power Solutions LLC to
develop lithium-ion battery packs for the Saturn Vue hybrid.
A123Systems, based in Watertown, Mass., builds lithium-ion batteries
with its nanophosphate technology. Its batteries are currently used in