GM to pick Volt battery maker in next few months
DETROIT (Reuters) - General Motors Corp (GM.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) will announce a battery supplier for its all-electric Chevy Volt by the end of the summer, an executive said on Friday.
"My guess is that we'll have an announcement before the end of the summer," Tony Posawatz, the senior engineering executive heading up GM's Volt development program, told Reuters.
Separately, Posawatz said GM had been approached by utilities interested in using recycled Volt batteries as a power storage system, a secondary market that could bring down the cost of the Volt and other plug-in vehicles for consumers.
For its part, GM is lobbying utilities to offer rebates or cheaper off-peak charging rates and asking for other forms of tax relief to offset development costs expected to keep it from turning a profit on the initial Volt sales.
Posawatz declined to comment on how much GM would charge for the Volt, saying only that the automaker was certain there was strong enough initial demand to justify a higher price.
"The nature of this technology is that it's going to be expensive, and we will not underprice this vehicle," he said.
GM is designing the Volt to run for 40 miles on a lithium-ion battery pack that can be recharged at a standard electric outlet. The car will also capture energy from braking like a traditional hybrid and feature an on-board engine that will be used to send power to the battery on longer trips.
In the future, GM could offer a battery pack with a 20-mile electric-only range to bring costs down, Posawatz said, part of an effort to cut the cost of such vehicles by half or more.
GM wants the Volt battery to run at least 150,000 miles and last 10 years. But even after its projected life in the car, engineers estimate that the batteries would still have between 70 percent and 80 percent of their power remaining.
That opens the possibility that a utility could stitch together hundreds or thousands of recycled units to store power and send it back to the electric grid at times of peak demand, GM and supplier executives have said.
Posawatz said California utilities have been particularly interested in that prospect. "They've been very aggressive and they see the bigger picture," he said.