GM Brownstown Township site to assemble battery pack for 2015 Chevy Spark EV

Article by Andrew Christian, on May 17, 2014

General Motors is shifting output of the battery pack for its Chevrolet Spark EV to its own Brownstown Township battery assembly plant. The Spark EV’s lithium ion battery packs had been sourced from A123 Systems, which filed for bankruptcy in 2012 and later was acquired by Wanxiang Group.

GM disclosed in April that it would invest $65 million into the site to expand lithium ion battery production as the carmaker press for in-house development and manufacturing of EVs. GM builds its own battery packs and some of the motors for its EVs and plug-in hybrids.

In 2013, the carmaker started assembly of the Spark EV’s 85-kW electric motor at its White Marsh powertrain plant in Maryland. Larry Nitz, executive director of GM global transmission and electrification engineering, said in a statement that the carmaker’s in-house engineering and manufacturing expertise has allowed them to deliver a battery system that is more efficient and lighter than in the 2014 Spark EV.

The Brownstown battery assembly plant produces lithium ion battery packs for the Chevrolet Volt, Opel Ampera and Cadillac ELR extended-range EVs. GM has disclosed that the 2015 Spark EV’s battery system will weight 474 lbs -- around 86 pounds lbs lighter than in the 2014 model.

The pack will have storage capacity of 19 kW and use 192 lithium ion cells. The cells will be produced at LG Chemical’s Holland site in Michigan. GM spokeswoman Annalisa Bluhm noted that while the new Spark EV battery pack is lighter than its predecessor, it still allows the vehicle to achieve a fuel efficiency rate of 119 mpg equivalent and cruise for 82 miles on a single charge.

GM spokesman Dave Darovitz remarked that the production of the new Spark EV battery packs will not result to new jobs at Brownstown Township battery assembly plant, which already employs 100 people. Darovitz said that GM will add jobs “if consumer demand requires.” The 2015 Spark EV carries a starting price of $19,995 after federal tax incentives.

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