Volt Battery Contract a horse Race

by : Anthony Fontanelle

Chevrolet Volt never fails to mesmerize spectators of the most prestigious auto show in the industry. This is why in less than no time the plug-in hybrid has become the hottest sensation in the auto realm. No wonder why battery manufacturers rush to supply the Volt.

The Volt, which Chevrolet sees as a mainstream vehicle that could be recharged using a domestic outlet, has been closely watched by the industry. Powerful in the plug-in hybrid will include an electric motor fed by lithium-ion batteries. Fully charged, the Volt could run 40 miles without the use of petrol. A tiny engine would recharge the Volt, widening its range and allowing it to get the equivalent of 150 mpg.

The competition to become the battery supplier for the Chevrolet Volt is a 'horse race,' and plans are on schedule for a late 2010 launch of the vehicle, said General Motors Corp. Vice Chairman Bob Lutz. The exec added General Motors had hoped to name a battery supplier in April.

At present, there are two developers competing closely. But GM wants to "run the two in parallel for a while longer" as it continues to test the battery packs under different conditions.

"It's a horse race," Lutz told Washington-based reporters. The exec overseeing the development of the extended-range plug-in added both suppliers "have extreme strengths and some weaknesses, but the balance of strengths and weaknesses are different between the two potential suppliers."

The Detroit automaker development contracts with Troy, Michigan-based Compact Power Inc., which is developing battery cells with LG Chem of Korea, reported Forbes. GM also has a contract with Frankfurt, Germany-based Continental Automotive Systems, which is using cells being developed jointly by GM and A123 Systems Inc. The latter is responsible for the manufacture of lithium-ion batteries for use in cordless power tools.

The Volt is part of the automaker's strategy to offer a variety of alternative vehicles. The plug-in hybrid's sales target is about 100,000 annually by 2012. Lutz said the automaker remains on pace for a late 2010 launch of the vehicle.

"We are doing all of that testing and so far, I will say, no failures, no problems. The battery technology is working great," he concluded. He added that the obstacles it faces in developing a suitable battery "aren't fundamental electrochemical problems. These are simple engineering problems" which could be overcome.