General Motors Co. has entered a licensing deal with the U.S. Energy Department aimed at reducing costs and improving efficiency of advanced batteries for hybrid and electric vehicles. Korea's LG Chem supplies GM with its lithium-ion technology for its mainly electric Volt.
However, the government-patented technology for more powerful and longer-lasting charges enables the automaker to have more flexibility for the future. It may be possible too that it will someday underpin the home-grown development of batteries.
In a statement, Energy Secretary Steven Chu said that these deals enable GM to use cutting-edge battery technology throughout its supply chain.
When it comes to battery technology, the U.S. lags behind Asian manufacturers and suppliers but they are moving fast towards new hybrid and electric car designs to meet government and consumer demands for more fuel efficient vehicles.
Acting under President Barack Obama's directive, the Energy Department is supporting several approaches that aim to improve advanced batteries.
It’s no secret that U.S. companies such as A123 and those in Asia, including China's BYD, which is 10% owned by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, are racing to offer the batteries first. Presently, hybrids account for a small fraction of U.S. sales.
All-electric vehicles for the general consumer have only recently arrived at the market with the Nissan Leaf. The Volt sedan marks GM's early efforts in the gasoline/electric market. [via autonews - sub. required]