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GM to Invest $43M in Li-ion Battery Plant in Brownstown Township, Mich.

General Motors Company will invest $43 million in Brownstown Township, Mich. to manufacture lithium-ion battery packs for the Chevrolet Volt and other extended-range electric vehicles.

The previously announced plant is the first lithium-ion battery manufacturing plant in the US operated by a major automaker. The plant will be part of a wholly owned subsidiary of General Motors called GM Subsystem Manufacturing LLC. Local and state incentives, along with Recovery Act funding announced last week by the US Department of Energy, are helping to make the facility possible.

The investment includes renovation and lease costs for the 160,000-square-foot landfill-free facility, new machinery and equipment, and special tooling. With the exception of specialized battery machinery and equipment, GM is reusing equipment from other GM facilities. Equipment installation at the Brownstown site is under way and production will start in the fourth quarter of 2010 to support the launch of the Chevrolet Volt.

The GM Brownstown Battery Assembly facility will include three primary assembly areas: battery module pre-assembly, final assembly and the battery pack main line. The pre-assembly area is where cells are processed and installed into one of three battery modules, which comprise a single battery pack. The module final assembly area is where final assembly and testing of the three modules required for each battery pack takes place. In the battery pack main line area, the battery receives its final dressing including attachments of hoses, straps and electrical connections. The main line is also where battery pack final testing, verification and packaging for shipment takes place.

The Chevrolet Volt will be GM’s first extended-range electric vehicle to receive the new plant’s lithium-ion battery. The Volt’s 16-kWh battery is the heart of GM’s Voltec electric propulsion system and consists of 150 unique parts. GM designed and engineered all but eight parts.

The Volt, which is scheduled to start production in late 2010 as a 2011 model, can travel up to 40 miles on electricity from a single battery charge and can extend its overall range to more than 300 miles with its flex fuel-powered engine-generator. The Volt is expected to be the first mass-produced vehicle to claim a triple-digit composite (city/highway) fuel economy rating. It achieves city fuel economy of at least 230 miles per gallon under the current draft US Environmental Protection Agency fuel economy test procedure for plug-in electric vehicles. (Earlier post.)

In June, GM opened the largest and most technologically advanced battery lab in the United States on its Technical Center campus in Warren, Mich. (Earlier post.) The new GM Brownstown Battery Assembly plant will work closely with GM’s Global Battery Systems Lab in Warren, which is dedicated to GM’s advanced battery development and testing for electrically driven vehicles.

The capability to develop, test and manufacture advanced batteries in-house is a tremendous competitive advantage. With the Brownstown battery plant we can control the entire development and production of this important technology.

—Bob Kruse, executive director of GM’s Global Vehicle Engineering for hybrids, electric vehicles and batteries

Comments

kelly

It's good to see GM investing in a US location for assembling the cells to it's Volt Li-ion batteries.

Concerning another battery, three some years ago GCC reported Flyfly won the 2006 Frost & Sullivan Technology Award.

Can that battery be purchased?

sulleny

This is an excellent step toward replacing overseas labor with local domestic labor. The model being established with GM demonstrates a method by which other economic areas (India, Asia, EU, SA, Africa.) Just as the pop phrase "think global, act local" - suggests by enabling local economies we strengthen composite global economies.

Viewed by some here as a narrow-minded vision, this is in fact the most expedient way of achieving global sustainability. International competition will rapidly convert fossil fuel based transport to hybrid and BEV transport. The type of energy storage technology will vary, including new battery chemistry, supercaps, range extender motors, FCs and exotic physics. This will provide a constant flow of jobs to meet expanding demands.

At some point GM will be looking again at licensing battery chemistry domestic (A123, Electrovaya, Altair, BASF) and foreign providing the possibility of batteries designed and assembled entirely in NA.

kelly

Flyfly typo - Firefly battery correction.

One still wonders how the Japanese could 'quick & dirty' engineer the 100+ mile range 1997 Rav4 EV and a dozen years later that's still the best 4-seat EV manufacturers can do, except possibily the BYD E6.

Arne

kelly,

With a big difference being that the RAV4 EV (and EV-1) were more like demonstration vehicles that could not be purchased. The real production costs of those cars was probably very high. In effect those people leasing a RAV4 or EV-1 were subsidised by the car manufacturer.

What we're seeing now is manufacturers readying cars (like the i-Miev, Leaf and Model S) that you can actually purchase and have commercial viability. No hidden costs, no subsidies, no lease-only, these cars are the real deal.

kelly

Anne,

Many 100 mile per charge Rav4 EV 'demonstration vehicles' were openly sold to their owners and have had 'commercial viability' in private and fleet use for over ten years.

Normally, one would expect that a dozen years newer electric product be several times better, as in more then the same 100 mile per charge range(i-Miev, Leaf..), especially with today's larger subsidies.

HarveyD

kelly:

You are correct. There are not too many other mid-size e-vehicles that can do better than the EV-1 or e-RAV-4.

It seems that a better product may not be around for another 3 or 4 years, when e-storage units may hit 200 Wh/Kg with 2000+ cycles @ about $300 to $500/Kwh.

The ESStor ESSU (if it ever comes out) may change the game for better BEVs and PHEVs in 2011/12?

Another game changer may be low cost higher performance battery packs from China, namely from BYD and similar large manufacturers, within the next 3 years.

USA and Canada may not produce low cost e-storage units unless more $$B (in subsidies) keep coming. Who knows, with another $100B to $200B we may manage to do it for about 5 years or until such time as union workers pay reach $100/hour. The positive efects of subsidies wear off quickly enough.

Fully automated plants to assemble (drop in) plug-in cells into containers, all made in Asia, may be a solution for (locally made?) e-storage units.

kelly

HarveyD,

"It seems that a better product may not be around for another 3 or 4 years" has been already heard for over a dozen years.

If manufacturers can't improve on 1997 EV battery range, how about at least returning compact vehicle weight to under 2,000 pounds to improve mileage.

The last dozen years have produced lighter, stronger materials. The most popular cars ever sold(VW bug - 22 million sold, Model T - 15 million, Corolla - 35+ million, Mini..) all were once under 2,000 pounds(some under 1500) - and air bags don't add 500 to 900 pounds.

ToppaTom

Actually, ALMOST ALL other vehicles (including those with ICEs, but not including the Insight 1) can do better than the EV-1 or e-RAV-4.

The Insight 1, like the EV1, was a 2 place game changer, but you EV early adopter, lighthouse customers turned your backs on it and killed it.

If GM had bought the Insight from Honda in 2006 and kept it alive for a year or 2 longer and then killed it, I shudder to think how the EV1 geeks would have reacted. We would NEVER hear the end of it. I ban hear it now “There were hoards of people clamoring to buy them but GM and big oil killed it”
Maybe it didn’t fail in the market place; maybe GM thugs, disguised as Greenpeace activists, hijacked the incoming transports in 2005 and 2006 and took the Insights to a crusher, because Honda was starting to install LARGE format NiMH batteries in them.

How much weight would air bags add to a Model T or VWbug ?
- I don't know but I'll bet auto makers are aware of aluminum, magnesium and titanium.

They probably never thought of reducing weight, though.

kelly

"How much weight would air bags add to a Model T or VWbug ?
- I don't know but I'll bet auto makers are aware of aluminum, magnesium and titanium.

They probably never thought of reducing weight, though."

Hence the question: "Where's a new 4-seat, under 2000 pound car TT? Tens of millions used to be produced!"

Even the 4-seat, 926 pound 2007 Toyota 1/X was years ago: http://www.greencarcongress.com/2008/02/toyota-1x-plug.html - so what's the problem?

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