GM's Secret for Safe Lithium-ion Batteries: Cool It!
General Motors Vice Chairman Bob Lutz raised eyebrows in battery development circles when he said recently that GM was “100 percent confident” that it has whipped the overheating problem that is hampering development of lithium-ion battery
packs for electric and hybrid cars.
Now the General’s secret can be told.
Tony Posawatz, vehicle line director for GM's E-Flex electric vehicle platform, told Green Car Advisor
during an interview in Detroit that instead of mounting a frontal attack on battery design for the Chevrolet Volt
extended-range electric car that is under development, engineers circled around and attacked from the flank.
“We’re going to use liquid cooling,” he whispered.
Running coolant lines through the big array of lithium-ion battery cells that will store energy to propel the Volt and other models built on the E-Flex platform
adds cost and isn’t as elegant as developing a battery that won’t overheat, Posawatz admitted. But it is enabling the automaker to keep on its self-appointed schedule: Volts in the market by 2010.
Failure isn’t an option, he said. GM was recently savaged in the popular documentary, Who Killed the Electric Car?
, for its decision to pull the plug on its first modern electric vehicle, the EV1.
With the Volt, a car Lutz has said will be sold for under $30,000, GM has laid its reputation on the line. Asked if the project could wind up on the cutting room floor, Posawatz shook his head.
“We’d never live it down,” he said.