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GM and A123Systems to Co-Develop Lithium-Ion Battery Cell for Chevrolet Volt

August 12, 2007 by Jeff Shepard

General Motors Corp. and A123Systems, Inc. announced that they will co-develop cells with A123System’s nanophosphate battery chemistry for what the company’s claim will be a long-lasting, safe and powerful battery for use in GM’s electric drive E-Flex system. The agreement is expected to expedite the development of the batteries for both electric plug-in vehicles and fuel cell variants of the E-Flex architecture.

"Breakthrough battery technology will drive future automotive propulsion, and the company that aligns with the best strategic partners will win. That’s what is so important about this deal," said Bob Lutz, GM Vice Chairman of Global Product Development. "Whether you’re talking about the Chevy Volt, a fuel cell or even a plug-in hybrid such as our planned Saturn Vue, we need to understand the fundamental battery cell performance."

The contract calls for A123Systems to develop battery cells to meet the specific requirements of GM’s E-Flex system. A123Systems is a developer of nanophosphate-based cell technology, which the company claims provides higher power output, longer life and safer operations over the life of the battery compared to other lithium-ion battery chemistries.

The E-Flex electric vehicle architecture was first shown in the Chevy Volt concept car revealed earlier this year. According to GM, for average commuters driving 40 miles, the Chevy Volt will use zero gasoline and produce zero emissions and could nearly eliminate going to the gas station altogether.

"The Chevy Volt will lead the automotive industry in a new direction," Lutz said. "We see a future where vehicles run on electricity and are equipped with clever ways of making electricity on board, making us less dependent on gasoline. It’s the next great paradigm shift in our industry, an opportunity largely due to the rapid advancement in battery cell technology by companies such as A123Systems."

Dave Vieau, A123System’s CEO, said this type of battery will be advantageous in other transportation industries as well. "We’re talking today about the Volt and implications that it will have on the electrification of passenger vehicles, but the technology goes a lot further than that. The weight, size, safety and performance of these batteries have implications on all transportation, including hybrid buses, trucks and aircraft."