Lithium-ion technology is GM’s choice for its future hybrids

Article by Christian Andrei, on August 27, 2010

Lithium-ion technology is General Motors' battery of choice for its future hybrids, plug-ins, extended-range electrics, and fuel cell vehicles.

Lead battery systems engineer Andrew Leutheuser said that GM has committed to using only lithium-ion technology for its future battery needs and has no plans to develop nickel-metal-hydride batteries.

Since lithium-ion batteries are two times denser than the nickel-metal-hydride batteries found in hybrids today, weight can be cut in half without affecting the performance.

For this reason, many carmakers intend to use lithium-ion batteries in their newest products. The problem is that some companies are reluctant to abandon the huge financial investment spent on putting the nickel-metal hydride in their hybrids. 

GM plans that after it launches the Volt in late 2010, it will introduce its second-generation belt-alternator hybrid system using lithium-ion batteries.

The American manufacturer hints that the new lithium-ion system will first appear in 2011 in a sedan but the carmaker didn't say which model it was going to be in. With this information, we could guess that the new hybrid system will debut in a Buick.

It appears that the new BAS will launch before a face-lifted Chevy Malibu in mid-2012, which is when the next Buick is expected. The new and old batteries actually have the same energy capacity but because of the difference in density, GM expects to see a 12- to 15-percent boost in fuel efficiency with the second-generation technology.

That means that for a midsize sedan, fuel economy would be about 29 mpg in the city and 38 mpg on the highway. The belt-alternator system, which some consider to be a "mild hybrid" is currently used in the Chevrolet Malibu, Saturn Aura, and Saturn Vue. [via automobilemag]

Topics: gm, hybrid

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