Slapped with tariffs and denied five-figure subsidies available to domestic electric vehicles, at last reported count the Chevy Volt priced in China at $79,000 has sold 18 units since its January launch, but undeterred, GM is hard at work on longer term Chinese EV plans.
Besides co-development of electric vehicles for future domestic manufacture with joint venture partners, another milestone was just reached by the GM China Advanced Technical Center in Shanghai.
There, the world’s largest automaker is building and testing battery cell prototypes that can be incorporated in Chinese-produced EVs that will sell for much less than the Chevy priced like a top-line Caddy, be much more profitable – and this will not just pay benefits for the domestic market, but potentially also for export to other markets.
Yes, cost savings is a major advantage being touted and battery researchers are working on such details as processes, material preparation, coatings for the batteries, cell fabrication, and performance testing for the new energy storage technology in development.
“Producing the first prototype battery cells is a big step forward for the GM China Advanced Technical Center,” said John Du, Director of GM China’s China Science Lab. “It is critical for enabling GM to develop smaller, lighter and lower-cost new-generation batteries. Leveraging this success, the independent assessment system for battery materials will help speed up technical progress.”
GM is at the same time fleshing out a workable supply chain and building strategic relationships to enable it to be a “smart cell buyer.”
China has a plan to see a for-now paltry number of EVs on the road mushroom to five million by the year 2020. GM also has 20-20 vision it would seem, with an eye for that big market.
It established an early foothold years ago in the rapidly developing nation, and as China aims to cut pollution with electric vehicles, surpassing all other EV markets in the process, GM intends to be there.