Photo: AP file

GM: New batteries cut electric car costs, increase range


General Motors says a pending breakthrough in battery chemistry will cut the price of its electric vehicles so they equal those powered by gasoline within five years. The technology also will increase the range per charge to as much as 450 miles.

The company’s product development chief promised a small electric SUV that will cost less than $30,000 and pledged to roll out 30 battery-powered models worldwide by 2025. Nearly all current electric vehicles cost more than $30,000.

The announcement Thursday shows how fast electric vehicle technology is evolving and how it may become the primary fuel for transportation sooner than almost anyone believed.

The GM announcement is among a series of recent tipping points from internal combustion vehicles to electric, Guidehouse Insights Principal Analyst Sam Abuelsamid said. Ford and Fiat Chrysler recently announced plans to build electric vehicles and components at Canadian factories, and Volkswagen, the world’s top-selling automaker, is increasing its EV spending and models. “There’s going to be a lot more EVs coming,” he said.

The challenge for automakers and startups has always been balancing range against battery costs, and GM appears to have gone beyond that, Abuelsamid said.

“What we’re seeing now is that they’re confident enough on their costs that they think they can offer those 300-to-400 mile range vehicles, and the upfront cost is similar to internal combustion vehicles,” Abuelsamid said.

The developments arrive as government pollution regulations tighten worldwide, with California and the United Kingdom recently announcing plans to ban gas-powered new vehicle sales in 10 to 15 years. President-elect Joe Biden is likely to restore government fuel economy regulations that have been rolled back by President Donald Trump, with Biden vowing to spend billions on electric vehicles and charging infrastructure. GM supported the rollback.

“If you look at all the forecasts the estimates, generally, the demand is kind of potentially being forecast to pick up,” said Doug Parks, GM executive vice president of product development. “We think the industry is transforming, and so we want to be at the leading edge of this.”

The company also wants to supplant Tesla as the global electric vehicle leader, saying it has done great things and was able to get the jump on GM and other traditional automakers.

To back up its claims, GM said it will raise spending on electric vehicles from a promised $20 billion, to more than $27 billion through 2025.

The new battery cell chemistry, now undergoing early tests at a lab inside GM’s suburban Detroit technical center, can hold twice as much energy as the company's current electric vehicle batteries, Parks said. They’ll also cost 60% less than current battery packs now in the Chevrolet Bolt electric car, he said.

The chemistry, which will use lithium metal anodes, will help GM package battery cells for a wide range of vehicles at different price points and ranges, Parks said. The new battery cells also will be used by Honda, which is partnering with GM and battery cell supplier LG Chem of Korea.

Parks said GM’s next generation of batteries due out next year already are getting close to reducing electric vehicle costs so they are similar to internal combustion engine vehicles, especially when fuel costs are factored in.

He said GM will build its own batteries to take advantage of economies of scale as more electric vehicles are sold. “We’ll learn it. We’ll perfect it. We’ll scale it and we’ll ride that cost curve down,” Parks said.

Slides presented at the virtual Barclays Global Automotive Conference Thursday made reference to future electric Chevrolet sedans and sports cars, GMC and Chevrolet full-size electric pickups, an electric GMC Hummer full-size SUV, Chevrolet and Buick electric crossover SUVs, and electric Cadillac full-size SUVs, smaller crossover SUVs and sedans or sports cars. Several “key high volume” vehicles will come by 2023.

Parks said one of the Chevrolet crossover SUVs would be similar in size to the brand's Equinox. As sales volumes rise for that mass-market SUV, that will help GM offer electric vehicles at even lower prices, he said.

The company should exceed its previous target of selling 1 million electric vehicles worldwide by 2025, CEO Mary Barra said.

Some more expensive luxury electric vehicles such as the Tesla Model S offer big batteries and ranges of over 400 miles, but Parks said GM plans to bring the higher range to more mainstream markets. A range of 450 miles is about equal to what people expect from a tank of gasoline, he said.

GM’s statements come two months after a similar announcement from Tesla CEO Elon Musk. He said in September the company is working on new technology that will enable more affordable cars that can travel dramatically longer distances on a single charge. He said the new batteries may not be ready for high-volume production until 2022, and there could be a Tesla with a $25,000 starting price.

Accounting and consulting firm Deloitte said in a study last summer that global sales of fully electric and plug-in gas-electric hybrid sales passed the 2 million mark last year, and were 2.5% of all new vehicle sales. By 2030, Deloitte predicts that total electric and plug-in sales will rise to 31.1 million, or 32% of global new vehicle sales. The firm estimates that fully electric vehicle sales will be 25.3 million, or 81 percent of the total.

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©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Go General!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

GM lowering the cost of anything is funny. Why just the other day they lowered the boom on Teams again...

2 ( +2 / -0 )


GM lowering the cost of anything is funny. Why just the other day they lowered the boom on Teams again...

GM is good enough for Honda to borrow an EV platform from, not the other way around.

Parks said. The new battery cells also will be used by Honda, which is partnering with GM and battery cell supplier LG Chem of Korea.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I will believe it when I see it.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Come back to me when you can recharge a EV battery in 5 minutes

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Come back to me when you can recharge a EV battery in 5 minutes

they do that now in China with a complete battery swap. Now Tesla are trying to restart the same process

5 ( +5 / -0 )

This is very good news. However,

GM made a very big mistake in not taking the EV ball and running with it. Back in the 1990s, California's government mandated that major automakers must start coming out with electric personal vehicles. GM responded with the EV-1. I used to see them on the road pretty often back then, and as far as I could tell, they were the only ones with an EV on the road. George Bush's administration joined the major US automakers in their suit to get California to stop making the majors make EVs, and the rest is history. GM had put the EV-1 on the road as a leased vehicle. Once they no longer had to have them on the road, they recalled the leases and destroyed every last electric vehicle. You can't even find one in a museum, when they used to be ubiquitous on the roads around here.

So, now we have Tesla eating their lunch, and GM is a distant also-ran, when at one time they were the front-runner. They have no one to blame but themselves for this lost opportunity. They have been obsessed with making low mileage internal combustion engine powered vehicles for over a hundred years.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

An anecdote about manufacturers meeting the US Environmental Protection Agency's rules for vehicles......I met a man who worked as an engineer for GM in the vehicle emission laboratory in Van Nuys, California. That was a long time ago, it may be gone now. Certainly he is retired. Anyway, he told me that the Big Three (GM, Ford, and Chrysler) had jointly told the US government that they could not meet the EPA's rules, and that they absolutely needed more time to work on meeting the clean air and fuel efficiency standards that had been laid out for them to meet. Low and behold, the Swedes came along told the EPA that they would be able to meet the new standards, no problem. The Swedes joined a catalytic converter with computer controlled fuel injection, and met both the American clean air standards and the fuel efficiency standards. My acquaintance told me that the Big Three were willing to pay the Swedes big time in order to copy what they had done, but the Swedes said that anyone could copy their technology, for free. Anyway, that is the story as I remember him telling it to me. I have looked on the internet, and you won't find any stories like that, but he was in a position to know, and that is what he told me.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

All these electric cars have one common problem, recharging!

It takes too long and places where it can be done are few and far apart. If your car's battery runs out, you can't exactly call a cab go to the nearest DIY place and buy a replacement. Where I live, there is an Aeon mall and it has only 3 charging stations in a car park for 500+ cars. The car dealers, only have 1 or 2 charging stations usually one high power and one low power. If one counts how many cars come to a gas station on a main road in half an hour, you will realize it is a huge problem to overcome if it takes 30 minutes to charge one car and this problem must be addressed before mass adoption of electric cars can happen.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Samit BasuToday  08:50 am JST

GM is good enough for Honda to borrow an EV platform from, not the other way around.

Honda doesn't produce an EV platform big enough (yet). The Honda e was primarily produced for Europe and Japan. But of course, your superficial conclusion is that Honda sin't "good enough". Haha. 0/10.

By the way, GM had an existing partenship with LG. The EVs using these cells are not Hondas, they are re-badged GM EVs.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Hm. The "plan" is 1m cars by 2025 over 30 models... so an average of 33,000 per model? Range of "as much as" 450 miles - Tesla does 353 miles today... Xpeng, Li and NIO will also probably be in the US by 2022 with sub-$20K cars... The numbers here are not good for GM.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Paul raises a good point: recharging infrastructure will be critical.

Say I’m traveling from KC to Colorado Springs (as we did when the kids were younger); That’s about a 600 mile drive. I’ll need to recharge somewhere. I’ll need a place where I don’t need to wait and where I can grab a sandwich and a diet Dr. Pepper.

The market won’t support this infrastructure right now, but this is an area where the government could nudge the market until demand is self-sustainable.

Personally, If I could get an electric vehicle (with the head-snapping torque) with 300+ mile range that could be charged (hopefully with electricity generated from solar or wind) in 30 min or less, That would do it for me.

In the short-term, the Biden administration could get the market to sustainable demand by helping to create the charging infrastructure necessary.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I think the charging issue for longer journeys comes down to "national infrastructure", meaning that if the government is committed, it will ensure adequate coverage. I believe Germany has put in place a policy to have 1 million charging stations by 2030. Sure, it's tax money, but the benefits to society obviously outweigh the investment. By 2030, oil will be used where necessary, but necessary won't be cars. Of course, the macro-issue is how the electricity is generated.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Now if GM can only find some QC people and a could of designers they might be able to do something with the battery tech.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Couple* of designers.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Time for the US to catch up.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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