Gm to Offer Pluggable Hybrid Battery

By: Correy Putton


General Motors earlier awarded contracts to two suppliers to design and test lithium-ion batteries to be used in the upcoming Saturn Vue Green Line plug-in hybrid SUV.

The first contract was awarded to Johnson Controls - Saft Advanced Power Solutions LLC, a joint venture between Tier 1 automotive supplier Johnson Controls and Saft. The other agreement was awarded to Cobasys, based in Orion, Mich., a joint venture between Chevron Technology Ventures and Energy Conversion Devices. The former will team up with A123Systems, a privately held company based in Watertown, Mass., to develop its lithium-ion battery technology.

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 U.S. government, collaborative research with Ford and DaimlerChrysler under the United States Advanced Battery Consortium (USABC), significant progress has been made in battery research," said Gray. "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."

The batteries, which are the fruits of the two agreements, will be evaluated in prototype Saturn Vue Green Line plug-in hybrids late this year. Said batteries will be integrated to Vue Green Hybrid to improve its efficiency. Though the batteries are both lithium-ion, their chemistries are expected to vary significantly. In addition, the suppliers are also expected to use different methodologies in the formulation and assembly of the battery packs.

GM is determined to retain its title as the largest automaker around the globe. To defend the title further, it will be actively look for more partners that will alleviate its standing. Taking lithium-ion technology to production is one of the significant endeavors that GM is concentrating on.

"These two agreements are by no means the only avenues we're pursuing," Gray said. "We are fully committed to forging the necessary partnerships to produce battery solutions that will meet our aggressive vehicle program targets."

In the past, GM has announced its intention to produce a Saturn Vue Green Line plug-in hybrid which is expected to double the fuel efficiency of any sports utility vehicle made available in the auto market. At present, the automaker is developing a 2-mode hybrid system with DaimlerChrysler and BMW Group. Said system will be used in front-, rear- and four-wheel drive applications in a portfolio of car and truck models. It is set to make its debut late this year in the Chevrolet Tahoe/GMC Yukon Hybrid SUVs.

GM, founded in 1908, employs about 326,999 people worldwide. With global headquarters at the Renaissance Center in Detroit, Michigan, USA, GM manufactures its cars and trucks in 33 countries. GM brands include Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Holden, Hummer, Opel, Pontiac, Saab, Saturn, Vauxhall. According to GM, it will be holding on and fighting for its title as the largest automaker around the globe. Hence, enthusiasts and critics in auto industry are expecting a pretty tight competition between GM and its closest rival - Toyota.

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