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GM Awards Advanced Development Battery Contracts For Chevrolet Volt E-Flex System

General Motors has awarded two separate contracts for advanced development of lithium-ion batteries and packs for the electric drive E-Flex System used in the Chevrolet Volt.

One contract will go to lithium-ion battery supplier Compact Power, Inc. (CPI), based in Troy, Mich. CPI is a subsidiary of Korean battery manufacturer LG Chem. A second contract has been awarded to Frankfurt, Germany-based Continental Automotive Systems, a division of Continental A.G., a tier one automotive supplier that will develop lithium-ion battery packs using cells from A123Systems.

GM Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner made the announcement at the annual shareholder meeting today in Detroit. GM says that it continues to assess other solutions to quickly bring lithium-ion batteries to production.

GM selected the two companies out of the 13 technical proposals it considered to provide advanced lithium batteries for both range-extender electric and fuel cell variants of the E-Flex architecture.

The signing of these battery development contracts is an important next step on the path to bring the Volt closer to reality. Given the huge potential that the Volt and its E-Flex system offers to lower oil consumption, lower oil imports, and reduce carbon emissions, this is a top priority program for GM.

—Rick Wagoner, GM Chairman and CEO

The E-Flex System was first shown as the plug-in battery electric propulsion system for the Chevrolet Volt concept vehicle at the North American International Auto Show in January. (Earlier post.) A plug-in fuel cell variant of the E-Flex system was shown at the Shanghai Auto Show in April. (Earlier post.) The “E” stands for electric drive; the “Flex” represents the architecture’s adaptability to be configured in several vehicle packages operating on various sources of electricity.

GM said that the suppliers chosen demonstrated solutions that best met the specific energy, power, mass and durability requirements for the battery in the E-Flex range-extender variant. The battery for the fuel-cell variant requires half the energy and power, but must be integrated and connected to the vehicle in a similar way.

This technology is developing rapidly. These contracts are an opportunity to deeply understand the differing battery technologies before making a production decision.

—Denise Gray, GM Director of Hybrid Energy Storage Devices

A123Systems recently introduced its new 32-series family of automotive-class, large-format Li-ion cells. The 32-series lineup initially consist of two cells with doped nanophosphate electrode designs, based on the same iron phosphate (LiFePO4) chemistry as the mass-produced M1 cell: the 32113 M1 Ultra for hybrid electric vehicles (HEV) and the 32157 M1 HD for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV). (Earlier post.)

A123Systems designed the 32157 PHEV cells to deliver the lowest cost per watt hour ($/Wh). The 32157 offers a volumetric density of 260 Wh/L, can deliver very high power at a lower state of charge with a 10+ year projected service life, and  has a projected cycle life of more than 7,000 cycles at 100% DOD, according to the company.

CPI makes large-format cells using a proprietary lithium manganese spinel (LiMn2O4) cathode with additives to improve calendar life under high temperature conditions.

CPI’s 12-month program with GM involves the development of battery cells and battery packs. LG Chem, CPI’s parent company, will develop and supply the cells, while CPI will focus on pack development and assembly including mechanical integration, thermal and electronic management and vehicle interface.

The CPI program will have three phases:

  1. Battery cell/module development and testing;

  2. Battery pack development and testing; and

  3. In-car integration and testing.

In work with the Department of Energy’s FreedomCAR initiative last year, CPI delivered a cell design that exceeded the FreedomCAR goal of 300,000 cycles. The company also has developed a patent-pending abuse tolerant separator (a membrane between the electrodes) that will further improve the performance of this cell design.

Recent test data shows that the company’s latest chemistry can achieve more than 15 years of calendar life in an automotive environment.




Good to see that GM is getting along with the E-Flex idea. They had the last 5 year design cycle to catch up to Toyota and did not do so.

Maybe now they will get with the program and quit saying that hybrids are a fad and hydrogen is the future.



Here's my suggestion for an advertising slogan:

Go Bolt in a Volt!

Pretty corny perhaps, but it does grab you!


It will be some time before you see the BEV from GM. The whole auto industry has invested in diesels and that's the next push into the U.S. markets. I figure it will play out this way: DV, HEV(diesel), PHEV, BEV, with bio as part of the mix. Hydrogen technology will require some major breakthroughs...maybe in 20 years.


incredibly corny, but i love it

i'm so glad to see GM actually moving along with the volt, rather than riding the attention they got from introducing this design.

greg woulf

I think they'll produce the Volt in 2009-2010, if they maintain their development cycle time.

The great thing about it is that it could run Diesel, fuel cell, gas, ethanol or something we don't know yet. Anything that can generate electricity to charge the battery system can be used.

I don't think you'll see a BEV soon, but we don't need one right away. We can cut gas use by something over 50% with this car running just 40 mile range on the pure electric and then electric from the generator to get the range people demand.

I hope they take the time to put the quality in every feature of this car. No poorly crafted cheap plastic parts. They need to step up the quality so there are as few negative feedback stories as possible when they launch this car.


I'm a little confused here, I thought they had already picked Cobasys/A123 and SAFT/Johnson Controls for their battery suppliers. (Or have I spent way to much time on this site and begun to dream GCC?)


I thought the same thing as you just mentioned when I read the article. Does anyone know if A123 and friends are out now?


A123 is still there. It seams that they are now linked with Continental instead of Cobasys.


do you think they will actually sell it , or just lease them with a clause
to crush them if they look like being too sucessfull !
sorry to bring you all down but I seem to have heard it all before in
like 1993 !


This is a way to get in the game in a major way. I do not care if they lease them or sell them. Just make them widely available at a reasonable price and let the market decide.

greg woulf

No need to bring up the EV-1, it's an entirely different situation. If you want to help the environment, or save gasoline put your misconceptions behind you.

The EV-1 was a money loser for GM, and at that time there was no batteries being tested that would have changed that.

GM made the right business choice on that. They made the wrong choice by ignoring hybrid applications, like the Prius.

Now I think they're making the best business choice in developing the Volt.

Will you try and punish GM for that? If people hold a grudge, then they're more to blame than GM in my opinion. GM had to worry about stockholders and workers. Buyers just have to worry about a single car.


According to Wagoner, they evaluated 13 proposals, presumably Cobasys among them. The newer A123 32157 battery with lower cost per Wh and Continental AG packaging seems to have beat out Cobasys.

Also a good move to award a contract to Compact Power Inc. in Michigan since 'made at home' is an important perception for GM. It is impressive to see the detail in these updates - which confirm they are serious about building this car.

Note too that CPI appears to have a manganese spinel cathode which rivals the specs on the NanoSafe. 300k discharge cycles is extraordinary. CPI/GM makes sense as parent LG builds volumes of Li cells for their consumer electronics division. Now we have two players in large scale Li EV storage.

The January press release indicated that GM's using some newer lightweight composites in body design and I agree - QC on this car must be stringent. Slowly, step by step, GM appears to be making a major return to automotive leadership. Which is what North American engineering has done well in the past - innovate and lead.

Two thumbs way up GM!


Rick Wagoner also said that the company needs to move beyond petro-based fuels in a CNN article:

I’m a little annoyed about a couple of things mentioned, or rather, not mentioned in the CNN article: 1) there was no mention of the Volt (but of course, E85) and 2) shareholders were defeated in efforts to force GM to reduce greenhouse emissions (defeated by management).

You read this and it tells me nothing has changed at GM.

Bob Bastard

greg woulf, don't forget what the price of gasoline was during ev1's run, either. I remember it selling for $0.79 per gallon at one point during that period.

anti gravity

the plugin hybrid is the trojan horse that will lead to a long range BEV
it will lead to the mass production of large LI cells pushing down the cost
once the volt is built people will hack it from day one, if you remove the ICE from the car and replace it with extra Li you would have a good BEV
A lower cost of Li cells is the only thing tesla motors are waiting for to build the white star


The announced Cobasys-A123Systems work for GM is for the Saturn VUE two-mode plug-in hybrid. JCS is the other provider. That project is still continuing. The relationship with Conti for A123Systems is analogous to the Cobasys partnership--A123Systems provides the cells, Cobasys and Conti do the pack and integration work.

anti gravity

The price of gas is not the issue for many people, I want to drive a BEV because I believe they are better than ICE in all areas except one, that is range but since Li cells are getting better every year this is less and less of an issue
Also with gas there is more to think about than the price. The day I start driving a BEV is the day i stop sending money to saudi arabia
If the people of saudi arabia want to hate the west they are free to do so, but i for one don't want to help them with my gas money


Anti gravity

I agree with you in princible but many people live pay check to pay ckeck and can not take the high road all the time. for most ,if not all. It needs to be compatibale with gas cars.I hope it does

Bob Bastard

Anti gravity, personally I agree with everything you said 100%. Unfortunately, I don't think that is the case for a large percentage of the populace, who are turned off at the added upfront cost of a EV/HEV, even with the price of gasoline 2-3 times what it was several years ago. Interestingly enough, many of these same people seem to have no qualms paying thousands upon thousands extra for leather interior, chrome rims, and built-in DVD players. I always wonder if these same people who seem to take pride in displaying 'support the troops' stickers on the back of their huge SUVs and tonneau covered pickup trucks would have also refused to grow 'Victory Gardens' or 'Save scraps to fight the Japs' during WWII, because it would have been too much of a compromise of their lifestyle.


Thanks for fixing my confusion Mike! Nice to know I'm not (twitch) actually going crazy (twitch).

John Ard

And now the remark from the token redneck:
Pickup truck. If GM wants to really catch the market they need to drop their gas-only truck models and go either with the Duramax, two-mode hybrid, or E-Flex in every truck. I would run to our Chevy dealership if I could trade my Dodge Ram 2500 Cummins TurboDiesel for a GMC Sierra 2500 E-Flex with on-site power capability. Heck, a truck like that could easily tow anything I put behind it and get fuel mileage like my Scion xB 5-spd while being an extremely reliable generator for the few times a year I need one (power is not always on in central Alabama).


Dumping EV1 and utilizing the E-flex system is the right way to go.

Hybrids require the integration of the electric and ICE engines which get inputed into the transmission - more complicated. Hybrids will always use fuels even if it is converted to a plugin. Hybrids will put more wear and tear on the ICE engine since it engages at high speeds. I predict that more maintenance will be required for Hybrids.

The E-Flex system will be powered by the electric motor only; simplifying the car design. If you drive within the electric range and plug-in, you shouldn't have to fill up at the gas station.

Herm Perez

that on-site power generating capability would come in handy in S Florida after a hurricane goes thru..



It wasn't so long ago that you had no faith in "the market." Now you want this same market to decide what type of vehicle that is driven?

In college, they called you a "convenient capitalist." Make up your mind....


Market systems are not one size fits all. What is good for somethings is not necessarily good for others. It comes down to wants versus needs.

You may need transportation, but you want a car. Wants can be left to the markets and needs should not.

That is my simplified version. Since the 80s it has been markets for everything, which brought us Enron.

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