Advertisement

GM Bets On Cheaper Electric-Car Batteries With Envia, Invests $17 Million


Lithium-ion battery pack for 2011 Chevrolet Volt

Lithium-ion battery pack for 2011 Chevrolet Volt

Riding high on a bout of good press of its Chevy Volt, GM is putting $7 million into its next big bet on electric cars: cheaper, higher-energy batteries.

In his state of the union address yesterday, President Obama called for the U.S. to be the first country to put one million electric cars on the roads by 2015. While there’s great interest in electric cars, mass adoption is still hobbled by availability, price of the battery and consumer concerns about range limitations.

Today, GM announced it had invested $7 million in Envia Systems, a Newark, Calif.-based maker of lithium-ion cathode technology that it says can increase energy density of battery cells by one-third and for less money.

Envia says it uses cathode materials that stores more energy per unit of mass than current cathode materials, meaning less of it can be used, yielding a cheaper battery. GM also licensed Envia’s advanced cathode material for use in future GM electric cars.

The company’s venture capital arm led a $17 million round of fundraising for Envia, with investors that included Asahi Kasei and Asahi Glass; and current investors Bay Partners, Redpoint and Panagea Ventures.

2011 Chevrolet Volt outside Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant

2011 Chevrolet Volt outside Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant

Enlarge Photo

“Skeptics have suggested it would probably be many years before lithium-ion batteries with significantly lower cost and higher capability are available, potentially limiting sales of electric vehicles for the foreseeable future,” said Jon Lauckner, president of GM Ventures in a statement. “In fact, our announcement today demonstrates that major improvements are already on the horizon.”

Mass-produced electric cars kicked off in December with the all-electric Nissan Leaf, which goes about 100 miles on a fully charged battery and is the first all-electric car widely available by a major automaker.

The Volt also went on sale last month; it’s a range extender that goes 25 to 50 miles on battery, then switches to gas. The Ford Focus Electric and an all-electric sedan by startup Coda are slated to go on sale later this year.

This story, written by Iris Kuo, was originally posted on VentureBeat's GreenBeat, an editorial partner of AllCarsElectric.

Advertisement
 
Follow Us

 

Have an opinion?

  • Posting indicates you have read this site's Privacy Policy and Terms of Use
  • Notify me when there are more comments
Comments (7)
  1. Sorry, but mass adopotion isn't hobbled by consumer concerns about range limitations. They just don't make enough of them. The percentage of people who want to buy an EV far outweighs availability, and will for a long time. Once the EV becomes mainstream (meaning you can walk into a dealer showroom and see one) then maybe we can talk about range concerns.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  2. Mass adoption will not be hobbled by availability...it will be hamstrung by Gov't "Red Tape" all over the world, Canada, Europe, America and especially Japan. By old thinking Auto Makers, who want to extend the life of the "ICE" machine and thus lobby against the Electric Car Rebate. By greedy Battery makers over charging for their battery. They have a hundred years to make their money. By greedy Auto Makers over charging for their $25K type cars!
    But, this time the masses shall prevail, we are going to 'em anyway!
    When I first saw the "new" battery I thought it sure looked like the one that came in the "EV1!"
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  3. Old thinking Automakers understand they can't make secondary sales of inferior parts on a vehicle that needs little maint. That causes most of the red tape.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  4. Lower cost and availability will lead to mass adoption of electric cars.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  5. Corrupt corprate welfare companines like GM are pushing Li-ON not because its superior, but because it is an expensive complex technology that, predictably, "still needs a lot of work" in order to be "viable". Fact is, battery technology has existed for decades that can move a moderately sized vehicle 100-200 miles at a charge. GM is useing the same playbook that america as a whole has embraced. Use High-technology(not being "ready") as an excuse for inaction. And why not, its kept america tied to its dirty and primitive transportation technology all this time.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  6. A slightly higher energy density is nice, but the Volt could actually be improved by a battery with lower energy density as long as it could take far deeper discharges than the 50% DOD GM allows for the LG Chem battery to get an acceptable lifespan. I'm thinking about the Toshiba SCiB battery that can be discharged to 85% for an incredible 6000 cycles (reducing batterycost per mile dramatically!) and be recharged in minutes, allowing owners to do more electric miles per day. It's only drawback is low energy density of about 60WH/KG but compared to the current higher density pack that's only used for 50% the total pack size could probably still be reduced.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

  7. GM crushed EVs, EV NiMH batteries, and patents for a decade before. History may attempt to repeat.
     
    Post Reply
    Vote
    Bad stuff?

 

Have an opinion? Join the conversation!

Advertisement

Find Green Cars

Go!
Advertisement

Advertisement

 
© 2014 Green Car Reports. All Rights Reserved. Green Car Reports is published by High Gear Media. Send us feedback. Stock photography by izmo, Inc.