GM Readies Volt Batteries for Road Testing

Later this month, General Motors will begin real-world testing a fleet of Chevrolet Malibus outfitted with lithium ion battery technology—as part of a push to bring the Chevrolet Volt concept vehicle to market. GM is targeting November 2010 to begin selling the Volt, a plug-in hybrid designed to travel up to 40 miles strictly on electricity. The performance of the batteries and energy storage technology is the largest hurdle for GM to get the Volt into production.

By most industry standards, the release of the Volt in 2010 is an aggressive target date—especially for a new vehicle with unproven technology. Some industry analysts and environmentalists, and electric vehicle enthusiasts speculate that the company will produce few units, perhaps only for fleet use, in the first year. Others characterize the Volt as “vaporware” and merely a play for eco-friendly publicity.

Lithium ion batteries are significantly lighter and more powerful than the nickel metal hydride batteries used in today’s hybrids. GM has been conducting lab tests on two separate packs—one from U.S.-based A123 Systems and the other from Korea’s LG Chem—to determine which technology is best suited to the Volt.

According to the latest announcements from GM, the new batteries will allow the Volt to travel zero to-sixty in less than nine seconds, deliver fuel economy of approximately 150 mpg, and will last for 10 years or 150,000 miles.

Batteries are not the only hurdle for the Chevy Volt. GM will also be racing the clock to redesign the shape of the vehicle to improve its aerodynamics, and to figure out how to manage the gas sitting in the Volt’s tank for long periods of time. For drivers who seldom drive more than 40 miles in a day, the same tank of gasoline could go unused for weeks or months.


  • Jeff

    GM keeps whining that it is not just a concept or vaporware but it is still vapor ware until they hit the street.

  • TD

    And sell it to the general public at a competitive price. Otherwise only Ed Bagley Jr. will be driving one.

  • Shines

    Go GM Go! Let’s not be too pessimistic. They are moving forward.
    At least they’re testing real batteries.
    I’m sure Toyota will have LI Priuses and Camries by then.
    Heck any existing hybrid is likely to be converted to LI as soon as the technology stabilizes.
    If I can just wait long enough (but not too long) I’ll get my 100MPG car :-)

  • steved28

    Ya, I don’t know what to think. GM is really getting aggressive with the volt. Some very good research is going on here at a breakneck schedule. Do they actually “get it” now? Or is this just another in a long line of PR stunts? Time will tell, but given the fact that the big 3 sales number where way down last month, and trucks and SUV’s led those numbers (as the worst), I want to believe this is real, but you can’t help but be skeptical, I mean it’s GM.

  • Stephanie

    The technology is out there, so the next steps are inevitable. It’s just a matter of who will be the first. Thank goodness the Toyota and Honda people were not as pessimistic. I think we all have to vote with our dollars to ensure this comes to pass. You don’t think Big Oil and related industries are going to let this go off witout a hitch, do you?

    If you look at the ill effects on body and planet from harmful emissions, and realize we have withstood this far longer than appears now necessary, you’ll realize that its now our turn to get behind the technology and push, instead of standing on the sidelines and poo-poo-ing it all.

  • Wisconsin Tim

    I can hear the Auto execs and editors groaning, “It’ll never work….” Then GM will produce like 7 or 8 a month and say there is no market. They’ll then drop the whole line in 2 or 3 years.

    Hey, at least give them credit for trying. Right?

  • ADVILL

    What about Valence new li-ph, batts?

    The new generation of them looks revolutionary, has anybody comment about it, the share jumped 300% in 5 days.

  • Jeff

    Who gives a flying @#$% what a company’s share price just did! Are you a stock hyper just trying to make money?

    There are many companies out there producing LiPo and LiIon Batteries. None of this is new and TESLA is proving that. The hard part is making them perform over 10 years under serious environmental conditions. I wish GM and everyone else would act a little more like Toyota and Honda. Give us the facts without sugar coating it and then shut up until you have something real to offer. Hyping a non-existent car or stock just feeds the disappointment and adds to pessimism.

    As for Big Oil trying to kill this stuff, they could give a darn since we need oil for way more than just fueling our cars.

  • cjoly

    Funny that you mention VLNC. I just started looking into them today. They have been publicly traded for over five years which is nice and they are making headway with their new li pho stuff. I think it behooves any investment minded person to be looking for profit potential in this potentially huge shift. I ordered their investors package today so it’s definitely a possibility in my book. Way to go ADVILL

  • iwona

    i love the new technology, go go GM !!!!, let show the world we can actually build new generation car, this is the time for us.

  • Michael J. Arscott

    Not withstanding all of the hull-a-balleough about the GM Volt; I WANT ONE; I “volunteer” to test drive a Malibu utilizing the LI battery system; as a professional driver, I’ll/we’ll really see if GM has finally put the U.S.of A. automakers back on the global map with a winning technology; so sorry Toyota; better luck in the “future”!!

  • dwillis

    I beg to remind ALL of us, GM owns Saturn, right? And didn’t Saturn come out with an all ELETRIC Car called the EV-1 ? that worked so well that the only time they come into the shop was when they had minor (none drive or battery) issues or “mandatory” service. They leased them out instead of selling them (which if the “volt” is released, they’ll probably pull the same sh**) It was such a success, that at the end of the lease, they sold the cars to the lease holders and everyone lived happily ever after. NO wait a minute that’s what should have happened, instead they Demanded all cars be turned in, so they could “CRUSH” almost ever last one of them out of existence, and hopefully (for them) out of our memories.
    “WAKE UP PEOPLE, THE BIG THREE WILL ONLY GIVE US, VAPORWARE, AND HYBRIDS! ASLONG AS YOU LISTEN TO THEIR BULL ! LOOK SOMEWHERE ELSE FOR ANY “REAL” ANSWERS! STOP BUYING THEIR B*LLS*IT PRODUCTS! Most company’s (& people) go where the Money is at, if you keep giving THEM YOUR MONEY, They’ll keep giving you more of the something they’ve been giving you, “NOTHING” ! OH and by the way, the most promising batteries around now, can’t be used, because, “BIG OIL” bought the patent !

  • Stan

    American engineers are fairly smart. Too bad the average Japanese is smarter. It all has to do with where you look for answers and how much you think you know. Move slow in this world and someone will kill you dead. Ask Kodak! From world beater to beaten by the world. The answer never comes from within, Mr. Engineer. You are part of a world that has the your answers if you know how to ask the right question. Ego will kill you so let it go. You are not the end of all wisdom but you could be the end of it for your company. Move or die. We need to move from fossil fuel dependence to options. There’s room for more than one type of personal mobility out there. It’s transition time.

  • VJ

    dwillis is abolutely correct! GM killed the EV-1! Go rent or buy the movie/documentary called “Who Killed The Electric Car? & you will see & hear things that will make you sick-at-heart. I was so Mad after watching it. This car would have sold thousands! They had a huge waiting list for the EV-1 at the time they shut it down, took back the cars & Crushed them. They were a perfect in city, errand running, commute to work car! A single charge got you 80 miles of driving, so charge it at night in your garage & then at work in the parking lot, if you needed to. They were Sleek & Modern looking in a cool Porsch type of style, not a little dorky box on wheels! Get the Movie watch it & then loan it to all of your friends!
    & if you know a Big-Shot at Shell Oil Company get them to start making those Batteries!

  • Jon Fortner

    Ok so a potential 150MPG, here is my question, how much will it cost me to plug it in and charge it up each day? I imagine it will be cheaper than $4 a gallon, but electricity costs money too.

  • Shirley

    It’s about time that someone designs a car that isn’t ugly that is electric and or fuel economic. The body style of a lot of the cars today are totally ugly. Why not build for both class and economy. It was done once,let’s see them do it again. Who really wants to drive an ugly car? Let’s hit the desert for some good ideas that’s where they ditched them.

  • Al

    Shirley… you are right about the style, but how many can GM sell while it cost over 40K without a sizable incentive from gov? GM needs to make models that cost less than 30K for typical american like us to be able to afford it. Remember, affortability is the key to profitability.