China Key To GM’s EV Strategy

China is important for General Motors’ EV strategy and the company is accelerating the development of electrified vehicles in this Asian country.

“China has made electrification a key strategy. Electrified vehicles will play a critical role in efforts to conserve and ultimately displace petroleum as the major source of transportation energy,” Jon Lauckner, GM chief technology officer, vice president of Global Research & Development, and president of GM Ventures, said a presentation yesterday at the FISITA 2012 World Automotive Congress in Beijing.

GM China opened the Advanced Materials Lab in Shanghai in September 2011. The facility, which is part of the GM China Advanced Technical Center, is engaged in cutting-edge research on battery technology and lightweight materials.

“We will apply innovative technologies to cell design and fabrication, test and validate advanced cell materials provided by suppliers, and ultimately integrate battery cells into future battery systems for our vehicles,” said Lauckner. “We believe the further development of lithium-ion battery technology is possible through improvements in cell chemistry, cell and pack design, and optimization of thermal management.”

GM’s goal is to improve the energy density of its batteries so that they are smaller, lighter and less costly than today’s batteries.

In the long term, the automaker believes there is potential to double the energy density of battery packs in electric vehicles.

“Greater adoption of electrified vehicles requires a greater breadth of offerings; cost reductions in technology for more competitive pricing compared to conventional vehicles; and, of course, more infrastructure for convenient charging,” Lauckner said.

GM’s global strategy is to provide consumers a variety of choices through a range of vehicles with electrified powertrains. The company’s strategy includes mild hybrid technology, full hybrids, extended-range electric vehicles as well as pure EVs.

As part of this strategy, Shanghai GM introduced Nov. 22 the SAIL SPRINGO pure electric vehicle, which will be built and sold in China.

Earlier this year, GM signed a memorandum of understanding with the Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City Investment and Development Co. Ltd. and the Tianjin Eco-City Administrative Committee to collaborate on assessing the real-world application of GM’s EN-V 2.0 concept in the Tianjin Eco-City.

GM currently has in China 12 joint ventures, two wholly owned foreign enterprises and more than 35,000 employees. GM and its joint ventures offer broad lineup of vehicles and brands among automakers in China; passenger cars and commercial vehicles are sold there under the Baojun, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Jiefang, Opel and Wuling brands.

In 2011, GM sold more than 2.5 million vehicles in China.