While Tesla’s Gigafactory has been grabbing attention this week, reporters also learned more about electrified vehicle batteries while touring General Motors’ Brownstown Battery Assembly Plant.
General Motors had invited journalists to visit the battery assembly plant located in Brownstown Charter Township, Mich., just south of Detroit. Six different battery packs that GM makes at the plant for nine vehicles around the world were shown to media – plus a tenth battery coming to Asia that has not yet been announced.
During the tour, journalists learned that the Cadillac CT6 plug-in hybrid electric vehicle will launch in China this fall before coming to the U.S. next year. GM builds the battery packs at the Brownstown plant and then ships them to China for final assembly in the PHEV.
For now, the Cadillac CT6 PHEV will qualify for China’s incentives offered to automakers to build green cars in that country. However, that will be changing next year, Bill Wallace, GM’s director of global battery systems, told AutoblogGreen. The new “Made in China 2025” plan will likely mean that GM will some day need to build all of its car parts, including the battery, in China. For the CT6 PHEVs that will be sold in the U.S., the batteries will make a round trip, since GM will only build the plug-in version in China.
While the battery range of the CT6 PHEV hasn’t been announced yet, it’s likely to be at least 50 kilometers (31 miles). That’s the benchmark China requires for incentives on PHEVs sold in the country.
There are two main battery types built at Brownstown battery plant, smaller air-cooled packs with Hitachi cells and larger liquid-cooled ones that use LG Chem cells. The nine GM vehicles that use batteries from Brownstown and the cells they use are: Chevy Silverado eAssist (Hitachi); GMC Sierra eAssist (Hitachi); Chevy Malibu Hybrid (Hitachi); Buick LaCrosse Hybrid (Hitachi); Chevy Volt (1st and 2nd gen, both use LG Chem); Cadillac ELR (LG Chem); Cadillac CT6 PHEV (LG Chem); and Spark EV (LG Chem).