General Motors and LG Group will jointly design and engineer future electric vehicles, expanding a relationship built on LG’s work as the battery cell supplier for the Chevrolet Volt and Opel Ampera extended-range EVs. The definitive agreement signed Wednesday will help GM expand the number and types of electric vehicles it makes and sells by using LG’s proven expertise in batteries and other systems.
For LG, the arrangement represents a widening of its portfolio as an automotive solution provider. LG has a number of subcompanies with technology and products beyond batteries, power electronics and electric machines that might be of interest in vehicles, said Micky Bly, GM executive director, electrical systems, hybrids, electric vehicles and batteries. A short list includes instrument clusters, telematics inside the vehicle (LG supplies OnStar modules), heat exchangers, and air conditioning systems.
|“This is a strategic development for LG and we fully support GM’s goal to lead the industry in the electrification of the automobile.”|
|—Juno Cho, president and COO, LG Corp.|
Teams of LG and GM engineers will work together on key components, as well as vehicle structures and architectures. A formal structure for the engineering teams is not yet in place. Vehicles resulting from the partnership will be sold in many countries worldwide.
The GM-LG relationship that began with LG delivering the cells for the battery pack of the Chevrolet Volt and Opel Ampera expanded last year with work on a demonstration fleet of Chevrolet Cruze electric vehicles. (Earlier post.) The Cruze EV demo fleet will be powered by batteries (31 kWh pack) from LG Chem and propulsion systems (motor/inverter) from LG Electronics.
These vehicles were used as official vehicles of the G20 summit in Seoul are now in the phase of market-testing to learn more about capabilities and requirements.
The new GM-LG strategic relationship is much larger and broader than their current partnering on specific technology. As an example, in January, GM and LG licensed Argonne Lab’s layered-layered composite cathode material for Li-ion batteries, which promise a substantial increase in energy capacity and safety. (Earlier post.) Commercialization of that technology “is something that would have happened naturally,” Bly said.
This [new agreement] is much broader, much larger, and at a vehicle level. We are trying to bring an EV to the market together in the future. We are jointly designing at a vehicle level, and potential synergies and potential assets may be brought forward. If we have a great electric car solution, we may use it in many areas across vehicles.—Micky Bly
Timing of the launch of the first vehicles resulting from the partnership will be announced closer to market readiness. Although there is no firm timetable, Bly suggested that LG’s participation may help shorten the design, development and engineering process, however. The agreement does not involve an exchange of equity between the companies.