Just Charge It: GM to Open New Battery Plant

Friday, August 14, 2009

General Motors says it will open a new plant to assemble battery packs for the soon-to-be released Chevy Volt, the company's new rechargeable electric car. The media blitz for the Volt began on Tuesday, focusing on the car's projected gas mileage (230 miles per gallon on city streets) and downplaying the car's hefty price tag ($40,000).

GM plans to open the battery plant in Wayne County, Michigan; it's expected to create 100 new jobs in the economically struggling county. We talk to New York Times auto industry reporter Nick Bunkley and Wayne County executive Robert Ficano about new cars and new jobs.

Guests:

Nick Bunkley and Robert Ficano

Hosted by:

Katherine Lanpher

Contributors:

David J Fazekas

Comments [4]

two cents per mile

Why li-ion? Why is it that EVERY car companies is now talking about li-ion batteries, when NiMH batteries are cost effective, durable, reliable, safer, and proven? In 2001, GM sold the patents to the NiMH batteries to Chevron, who has sued any auto manufacturer whose attempted to make an electric car with them... I hate GM for selling the patent, and I hate GM for building electric cars now that are worse than the ones they were building 13 years ago... To get your blood boiling as much as I am, check out the book "Two Cents Per Mile" by Nevres Cefo, check it out at http://www.twocentspermile.com or you can read portions of it on amazon at http://www.bit.ly/2centsbook

Aug. 17 2009 12:53 PM
Garry G

Adam-- Well said. Yes, Ultra-capacitors are certainly part of the EV future! I think where we need to be focusing the conversation is how do we lower costs and reduce manufacturing complexities for automakers. And the most logical (and likely) engineering strategy is the full integration of batteries, hydrogen fuel cells and capacitors. I'm fond of saying 'the car is not an iPod'! It's going to a combination of storage systems (battery/capacitor) and power generators (fuel cells) to make EVs perform better than combustion engines. So, yes, capacitors deliver bursts of electrons and are very valuable! Lots of new startup players in this space... and nanoscale design of lower cost materials and electrodes are very promising!

Aug. 14 2009 10:21 AM
adamehirsch

Excellent info, Garry! What do you think of the ongoing effort to develop ultracapacitors as an alternative to batteries?

Aug. 14 2009 09:44 AM
Garry Golden

My two cents! I'm glad to see jobs being created around EVs, but am very skeptical of America's ability to compete in building batteries. Asia dominates the lithium-ion battery supply chain and it's hard to imagine us competing in the long run.

The high end value of the electrification of the automobile is in Software and Systems integration-- not the energy storage material itself. GM should open offices in Silicon Valley as a signal of a Transportation Tech service oriented growth strategy.

But if we want manufacturing jobs, building wheel based electric motors is a higher ROI dollar proposition than batteries. Polymer-based fuel cells and solid hydrogen storage technologies offer a nascent industry opportunity and would be a better fit for Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana's 'polymer belt' tradition. Just some thoughts! Garry G

Aug. 14 2009 09:31 AM

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