Last week General Motors CEO Dan Akerson said Envia Systems, a startup battery maker it has invested in, may within a few years produce a battery that could give electric vehicles up to 200 miles range.

Like many of these statements issued periodically, what will come of it is up in the air, but if it’s any cause for hope, the word from the top at GM was pretty clear regarding GM Ventures’ backing of Newark, Calif.-based Envia.

Akerson said what began with a $7 million investment in January 2011 is reason to report the possibility that within 2-4 years an electric GM could have 100-200 miles range.

With 200 miles range, would a Volt need a range extender? Or would all this hope for improved li-ion batteries just lead to better EVs, like the Spark and others?

Akerson said on the conservative side GM is sure a 100-mile range EV is do-able in a couple years, and with luck, this could become up to 200 miles with batteries made by Envia Systems.

“I think we’ve got better than a 50-50 chance to develop a car that will go to 200 miles on a charge,” he said. “That would be a game changer.”

GM Ventures placed a bet on this pony because it has reason to believe statements by Envia earlier this year saying its next-generation lithium-ion cell has already achieved record energy density. Envia said the new battery could slash EV prices by cutting the battery cost in half.


From Envia’s Web site.

“These little companies come out of nowhere, and they surprise you,” Akerson said in response to a question about GM’s strategy on gas-electric hybrid vehicles.

But just to add more kinks in the future road, Akerson said GM is not only considering hybrids and EVs, but hydrogen fuel cells, natural gas, and simply more efficient petroleum-powered engines are all on the table – and which will rise in ascendancy in coming years, GM cannot say.

“We can’t put all of our chips on one bet,” said GM’s CEO. “We’ve got to look at them all.”