GM may have electric car breakthrough (Update)

Aug 09, 2012 by TOM KRISHER

A small battery company backed by General Motors is working on breakthrough technology that could power an electric car 100 (160 kilometers) or even 200 miles (320 kilometers) on a single charge in the next two-to-four years, GM's CEO said Thursday.

Speaking at an employee meeting, CEO Dan Akerson said the company, Newark, California-based Envia Systems, has made a huge breakthrough in the amount of energy a lithium-ion battery can hold. GM is sure that the battery will be able to take a car 100 miles (160 kilometers) within a couple of years, he said. It could be double that with some luck, he said.

"I think we've got better than a 50-50 chance," Akerson said, "to develop a car that will go to 200 miles on a charge," he said. "That would be a game changer."

GM's current electric car, the Chevrolet Volt, goes about 35 miles on a charge and has a small gas motor that generates power to keep the car going after that. Few competitors have electric cars with more than 100 miles (160 kilometers) of range. Tesla Motors' Model S can go up to 300 miles (480 kilometers), but it has a much larger battery and can cost more than twice as much as a Volt. Nissan's Leaf and Ford's Focus electric cars both claim ranges of around 100 miles (120 kilometers), but that can vary with temperature, terrain and speed.

Envia said earlier this year that its next-generation rechargeable lithium-ion cell hit a record high for energy density. The company said the new battery could slash the price of electric vehicles by cutting the battery cost in half.

GM Ventures LLC, the automaker's investment arm, put $7 million into Envia in January of 2011.

The GM meeting, which was broadcast on a conference call to employees, lasted about an hour. A participant allowed a reporter from The Associated Press to listen.

"These little companies come out of nowhere, and they surprise you," Akerson said in response to a question about GM's strategy on gas-electric hybrid vehicles.

Akerson said the company is looking at hybrids, all-electric cars, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and natural gas vehicles, as well as developing more efficient petroleum-powered engines.

"We can't put all of our chips on one bet," he said. "We've got to look at them all."

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User comments : 17

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ormondotvos
4.4 / 5 (13) Aug 09, 2012
A purely commercial announcement with no indication of the tech behind it. Not what phys.org is about.
SatanLover
1.4 / 5 (8) Aug 09, 2012
A purely commercial announcement with no indication of the tech behind it. Not what phys.org is about.

you must be new here, many piss.org articles are to manipulate the stock market or attract investors. probably where they get their money from.

anyway this breakthrough could be any of the dozens of scientific breakthroughs i have heard about the last couple years.

dont forget that its a battle against the oil and coal companies.
ormondotvos
1 / 5 (6) Aug 09, 2012
Living 2000' from the actual #4 processor that ignited the vapor cloud, resulting in easily 100' flames and a 50' diameter boiling black cloud of hydrocarbons, our reaction was to slam the windows, pack the kid and scoot. Got some nice pix out the back window of the car.

Chevron's attitude is that we can't live without them, so they do as they please. They're right, so far, but that black cloud actually dropped on the rich folks in and past the hills and made them sneeze and choke. Progress.

We smelled nothing, since the heat drove the cloud up to what the helicopters called 2000' and light winds moved it to the hills.
iiiears
not rated yet Aug 09, 2012
http://seekingalp...eception

"I wasn't surprised that Envia used the Lux graphic, but I was shocked that that they altered it first. I wouldn't have even noticed if I hadn't used the same graphic in a recent article titled "Lithium-ion Battery Stocks: Investment Opportunities or Subsidized Laggards?" The original from Lux follows."

What do you make of this?
djr
3.8 / 5 (4) Aug 09, 2012
I agree that the article was very short on any real information - but it does look good for some major developments in battery tech over the next few years - it will be interesting to watch. I believe that EV's will surprise many people with how popular they become when the range gets up to around 200 miles.
philw1776
3 / 5 (2) Aug 09, 2012
One of dozens of battery "breakthroughs" that have been touted for years. Lab wonders most often fail to become commercial realities.
Husky
Aug 10, 2012
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
roboferret
1 / 5 (1) Aug 10, 2012
ill buy one when its in the shop

Is there another option I'm not aware of?
Skepticus
2.8 / 5 (5) Aug 10, 2012
We hear "breakthrough" so often now that it is sort of a joke. One may be fooled into thinking that all the obstacles must be more porous than aerogels by now, from the unceasing works of super-engineers and super-scientists. I don't know what heights the hype will scale for a truly paradigm shift discovery? My imaginations of possible hyperboles failed me utterly.
boater805
2 / 5 (4) Aug 10, 2012
Let's see.. No mention of cost, nor of longevity (number of charge cycles) life of battery, nor of the huge environmental issues of lithium batteries, nor of the hazardous nature of lithium batteries (the postal service actually bans international shipping of them due to hazard). Also no mention of manufacturing technology issues, nor of time to recharge. Oh, and not mention of the nationality of the "small company GM has invested in".

Summary: The article is most revealing in what it opts to not discuss rather than the minor unsupported claims it does provide. Indeed it appears to be a desperate attempt to pump the poorly performing gov't stock and probably politically mandated to try to pump the likewise failing candidate.
TheGhostofOtto1923
3.9 / 5 (15) Aug 10, 2012
A purely commercial announcement with no indication of the tech behind it. Not what phys.org is about.
"Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed."

-Physorg most often reprints news stories and press releases gathered from many disparate sources, and provides links to these sources for further info. By doing this they are providing a unique and valuable service. Being thus initially informed of the topic, one can also use google to do their own research and improve their knowledge base.

Physorg also offers dweebs like yourself the opportunity to embarrass themselves by leaving uninformed comments for everybody to see and discuss. This no doubt provides the site a preponderance of traffic and income from advertising.

This is what physorg is about.
wealthychef
not rated yet Aug 10, 2012
So, they will in 2-4 years be able to go 100 miles on a charge. But the article notes that some competitors are already able to do this. Where's the breakthrough?
hemitite
not rated yet Aug 10, 2012
You guys are just so cynical!

I know what they did: they took all of the amazing battery "breakthroughs" that we have been hearing of for the last few year and combined them into one super duper battery! It's the size of a paperback and can power an SUV for 200 miles!

Ge wiz - I just can't wait!
sanita
not rated yet Aug 10, 2012
that could power an electric car 100 (160 kilometers) or even 200 miles (320 kilometers) on a single charge in the next two-to-four years
You don't have to wait. Tesla produces such cars already: model Signature has nominal range 300 miles (482,8 km) for $70.000. IMO we should perceive the announcement of GM just in this perspective.
extinct
1 / 5 (2) Aug 10, 2012
16 years ago there was GM's EV-1 electric car that ultimately was defeated not by a superior technology, but by oil greed. i haven't seen any indication that this time will be any different.
Possibilus
1 / 5 (1) Aug 10, 2012
I kind of like the sound of that car in Pakistan that was announced earlier this week and that runs on water. It was endorsed by A. Q. Khan, so what better endorsement could one get?
sherriffwoody
not rated yet Aug 11, 2012
I wouldn't say ground breaking, its just an advancement. I thought they were going to say 600 Km's plus. naf
Shifty0x88
not rated yet Aug 12, 2012
So, they will in 2-4 years be able to go 100 miles on a charge. But the article notes that some competitors are already able to do this. Where's the breakthrough?

The breakthrough is that you don't need the extra weight, which is how the other companies are doing it, by adding more batteries, whereas Envia Systems is trying to make a better battery.

This will help with the power-to-weight ratio of the car allowing greater efficiency.

What is interesting is that it's just a more advanced lithium-ion battery, not a lithium-air battery or something else. I guess they are trying to get the technology out fast(2-4 years), rather than waiting even longer for the lithium-air batteries to mature.