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A123Systems-Cobasys and Johnson Controls-Saft to Supply GM with Li-Ion Batteries for Plug-in Hybrid Development Program

GM has awarded advanced battery development contracts to two suppliers to design and test lithium-ion batteries for use in the Saturn Vue Green Line plug-in hybrid SUV. One contract goes to the recently announced A123Systems-Cobasys partnership (earlier post), the other to Johnson Controls–Saft Advanced Power Solutions, LLC, a joint venture between Tier 1 automotive supplier Johnson Controls and Saft.

According to Denise Gray, GM’s newly appointed director of hybrid energy storage systems, the companies will be challenged to prove the durability, reliability and potential cost at mass volumes of their technology.

Thanks to critical relationships with the US government, collaborative research with Ford and DaimlerChrysler under the United States Advanced Battery Consortium (USABC), significant progress has been made in battery research. But a lot of testing and development is still needed. Together, with our suppliers, we intend to address the issues relating to thermal management, storage capacity, recharge times, driving range and cost reduction.

—Denise Gray

GM will evaluate the two test batteries in prototype Saturn Vue Green Line plug-in hybrids beginning later this year. GM recently announced its intention to produce a Vue Green Line plug-in hybrid SUV that has the potential to achieve double the fuel efficiency of any current SUV. (Earlier post.)

In addition to plug-in technology and a lithium-ion battery pack when ready, the Vue Green Line will use a modified version of GM’s two-mode hybrid system to achieve significant increases in fuel economy.

While both are lithium-ion batteries, the chemistry differs significantly. The suppliers also use unique methods in the design and assembling of the battery packs.

Johnson Controls’ power solutions business provides more than 110 million starter batteries globally each year. Saft is a world leader in high performance batteries and has a decade of experience in lithium-ion development and manufacturing. Saft provided lithium-ion batteries for the Chevrolet Sequel fuel cell concept vehicle.

Cobasys is presently supplying nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) systems for the Saturn Vue Green Line hybrid SUV and will be supplying NiMH systems for the 2007 Saturn Aura Green Line hybrid sedan. A123Systems, which employs 250 people, was started in 2001 to commercialize technology developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). A123Systems has quickly grown to be one of the world’s largest suppliers of high power lithium-ion batteries.

Last month, A123Systems was awarded a $15 million development contract by the United States Advanced Battery Consortium (USABC), an organization composed of DaimlerChrysler Corporation, Ford Motor Company and General Motors Corporation. USABC awarded the contract in collaboration with the US Department of Energy (DOE) to optimize the A123Systems proprietary doped nanophosphate battery technology for hybrid electric vehicle applications with a focus on systems that are high-power, abuse-tolerant, long lasting and cost effective.

A123Systems claims that its automotive-class battery technology offers a range of benefits for plug-in electric vehicles including: higher energy density than traditional lithium-ion HEV cells while having one of the highest power to weight ratio of commercially available batteries; low impedance growth even at very high charge and discharge rates; outstanding calendar life; novel design that withstands extreme shocks and vibration; excellent performance over a wide temperature range; and an intrinsically safe chemistry.

Johnson Controls-Saft Advanced Power Solutions (JCS) also has been awarded a 24-month contract to develop advanced, lithium-ion (Li-Ion) batteries for hybrid-electric vehicles (HEVs) by the United States Advanced Battery Consortium (USABC). (Earlier post.)

GM also will be actively looking for more partners to bring lithium-ion technology to production.

It’s important to point out that these two agreements are by no means the only avenues we’re pursuing. We are fully committed to forging the necessary partnerships to produce battery solutions that will meet our aggressive vehicle program targets.

—Denise Gray



The point being, my BEV and PHEV are going to take as much or more energy than my house. Unless we are prepared to provide that with clean energy, we have just shifted the problem. Sure, you do it at night off baseload, but most of that is coal.

Harvey D.

The average domestic electrical energy consumption is about 50 KWh/day in our area. We find 10 Kwh/day extremely low. We went from about 70 KWh/day to 32 KWh/day by downsizing from 2500 sq. ft. to 1500 sq. ft. + better appliances, HVAC, lights etc.

We expect a further reduction to about 25 KWh/day in a better built place latter this year. This would be a satisfying objective.

Please tell us how you managed to reduce to 10 KWh/day? What are the other energy sources? What is the daily total average energy consumption in KWh.


You are still not getting the point. We could double the baseload at night charging BEVs and most of that comes from coal. It is not about my home or whether I have solar panels, it is about BEVs being clean and without clean power they are not.


I just read somewhere that 86% of the light duty fleet could be powered by off peak base load without any increase in power production.

Coal spins in idle for most of the night! Nice synergy!

Plus there is supply security issue. For NA is would say that 40mi PHEV is a good thing


Stefan Skyllermark

Big oil cannot control batterymarket any longer. We already have a very big market in batteries for laptops, toys, tools etc. Probably is the most driving market cellphones and this year 950 miljons will be manufactured. The batterycapacity goes up with aprox 5% per year but that is not enough for the manufactures. They expect a step of 40% in 2008-2009 says Sony Ericsson and they need it for new phones. That means that we very soon vill have the batteries that we long for but it will not be car makers that have made the hard work.

Stan Peterson

It constantly amazes me how many people actually buy all this evil capitalism business. The Oil companies, the coal companies, the electric utilities and the auto companies don't make a dime, if they don't provide a product or service that people want and consume and buy.

Y'all sound like you would like to live on the hot air of political speeches by left wing demagogues, who actually produce squat, otherwise.

I've got news for you. It didn't fill the stomachs or nourished the minds of all those People who experienced first hand, the wonders of hot air, and no products, and dreary lives, that they had to deal with under your wonderful communist Utopias.

Common guys, Grow up.

This announcement is wonderful Progress.

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