Last week at the Detroit auto show, new, battery-powered, green cars reigned supreme. General Motors announced finalized plans for its Chevrolet Volt, which will be on the market in both fully electric and plug-in hybrid forms by late 2010. LG Chem, a South Korean company, won the much anticipated contract to manufacture the Volt’s lithium-ion batteries, beating out several other contenders, including Massachusetts’s A123Systems and Germany’s Continental AG.
LG Chem plans to manufacture the batteries in Ochang, South Korea, and then ship them to the U.S. for final assembly and installation. GM will assemble the final 400 pound, T-shaped batteries in a new plant they hope to build in Michigan, benefiting from the tax credits that state’s governor signed into law after she herself toured the show.
The Volt will be able to travel up to 40 miles in a single charge, and GM plans to offer a 10 year, 150,000 mile warranty, a guarantee which the batteries’ manufacturers claim they will match.
Of course, lithium-ion batteries have their detractors. As with all batteries, they generate large quantities of heat and are still extremely large — though they are considerably smaller than their nickel-metal-hydride counterparts. Nonetheless, the American auto manufacturers seem to prefer this design to other green car concepts involving biofuels or fuel cells thus far. For better or worse, with GM’s further announcement that it will open a 31,000 square foot automotive battery research facility in conjunction with the University of Michigan and the state offering viable tax incentives to establish a battery industry there, it seems likely that in the coming years we’ll all be driving lithium-ion powered cars around town.
Photo credit: Chevrolet