GM Working On 200-Mile Electric Car, Says CEO Akerson

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2014 Chevrolet Spark EV prototype, Sausalito, CA, Nov 2012

2014 Chevrolet Spark EV prototype, Sausalito, CA, Nov 2012

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Last summer he dropped a hint that it might be possible.

Now Dan Akerson has confirmed it: GM is working on an electric car with a 200-mile range, according to its CEO.

The chief executive officer of General Motors made the comment yesterday at an energy conference, as reported in Reuters.

He pointed to breakthroughs "on the horizon" in battery technology, and said the development project was actually a "dual play" to develop vehicles with two different ranges.

One would provide 100 miles, the other 200 miles.

Akerson didn't offer details of the vehicles or batteries in question.

But in January 2011, General Motors said its venture capital arm had invested $17 million in Envia Systems, which is developing a lithium-ion battery that uses a Silicon Carbon (Si-C) nanocomposite anode.

About a year ago, Envia said its battery would offer an energy density of 400 watt-hours per kilogram.

That's far higher than the 140 watt-hours per kilogram offered by the battery pack in today's Nissan Leaf, the highest-volume electric car in the world.

Akerson also said GM expects to have a total of half a million electrified vehicles on the roads by 2017.

To date, the only announced battery-electric car from GM is the 2013 Chevrolet Spark EV. It's a low-volume compliance car with a range of 75 to 80 miles.

The Spark EV uses lithium-ion cells from the A123 Systems, which was recently bought out of bankruptcy by Chinese auto-parts supplier Wanxiang.

At the same event, Akerson also called on President Barack Obama to create a "blue-ribbon panel" that would develop a 30-year "cohesive, long-term" energy policy for the United States.

2014 Chevrolet Spark EV

2014 Chevrolet Spark EV

Enlarge Photo

The panel's charge, he suggested, would be simple: "Develop a plan to improve our standard of living by extending the duration of the natural gas and tight oil 'dividend' for as long as possible."

Such a plan should recommend policies to ensure the U.S. "affordable energy with certainty of availability, cleaner air and water, lower CO2 emissions, a significantly lower trade deficit and balanced budgets."

As well as its Chevrolet Volt range-extended electric car (soon to be joined by the 2014 Cadillac ELR), GM is about to start selling a Chevrolet Cruze diesel-engined sedan.

It also offers its Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup trucks with a bifuel capability that enables them to run on natural gas as well as gasoline.


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Comments (23)
  1. Dinner with John picking up the tab is sounding better and better by the day :)
    This is truly news, nice article.

  2. Of course GM is looking for added range, what OEM isn't? And it's hard to comment on the feasibility of the energy density claim by Envia without knowing if they really have a competitive advantage or are just blowing smoke like so many do these days.

    I certainly would welcome any improvement in range, be it by GM or a competitor, but talk is cheap, although I hope GM can actually hit the mark here. Given the Volt, though, I think they'll be credible contenders for the first truly mainstream EV. Tesla is great but won't be mainstream until the $35K range or so vehicle is on the market. The Model S is great, but still a low-volume vehicle for a niche market. Let's hope that the success of the Model S allows Tesla to get there as planned.

  3. I seem to remember that the future battery that would give the Volt 200 mile electric range was a lithium sulfur formulation? Is that correct, or am I not remembering correctly?


  4. This is great, and public announcements like this put pressure on other companies to keep pace. More and better choices for consumers!

  5. Well, good for GM. But that is all talks. I want to see the actual car.

    This is still better than other company who "openly" oppose any BEVs. (hint: Toyota)

  6. But, Toyota has >100 mile range BEV on the road today … Rav4 EV.
    The real question for Toyota is what comes after their Rav4 EV demonstration?

    It would be great to see BEV Concepts targeting 2015-2017 production from both GM & Toyota. A great opportunity to show off their packaging & style design & engineering skills.

  7. Toyota is so "committed" that it openly speak negatively against all BEVs and its e-Rav4 is built by Tesla...

    Toyota CEO does NOT believe in battery cars and it has repeated that over and over again in the public...

  8. I would love to see an updated EV1, the (EV2). Assuming GM kept the
    drawings, that vehicle could be updated with new software, Li-Ion battteries, and a 6KW charger.

    Simple, low cost and would fill a gap below the Leaf.

  9. Do you think that 2-seater will sell while just about all competition have at least 4 seats?

  10. Toyota will start producing EVs in quantity as soon as they start taking massive market share away from their popular Prius hybrids. In order to do that, pure EVs need that 200 mile range at an affordable price.

  11. I agree. But Toyota doesn't believe in them now. It does hedge its bet by investing in Tesla...

  12. I'd say you just need a 100 Mile Battery EV with a slightly lower price point.

  13. "Akerson also said GM expects to have a total of half a million electrified vehicles on the roads by 2017."

    So in 2017 GM will have 500,000 electrified vehicles, and Tesla will have >100,000 (based on current 20,000 production rate). 90% of Tesla Model S's delivered today have range greater than 200 miles.

    To obtain 100 miles range at highway speed, a battery of ~30kWh is required, ~2x of Volts 16kWh. A less than 1/2 reduction from Envisa's stated 400 kW/kg would give a LEAF-sized vehicle over a 150 mi range, a 140 kW/kg would (~3x improvement) would provide 225 range (vs. today's 75 miles). All this doesn't include additional 10-20% improvements from using a nonsteel lighter weight body.

    Note 30kW is only 20% more than current LEAF.

  14. Greatly improved energy density is only half the solution for electric cars. The other half is shortening charge time to allow cars to travel on longer trips, or alternatively, to make the batteries compact enough to make battery exchange practical. As a Volt owner I would welcome a combination of greater electric range (say, oh, about 100 mi....) and a smaller battery package while still retaining the range-extending ICE.

  15. But you didn't include the winter condition degradation and battery aging.

    Also, Tesla S cost about 2x to 3x of the average new car price.

    A Leaf will be lucky to get 50 miles in 5 years with over 70,000 miles in a cold winter day cruising at 70mph....

  16. Well written John. I just read a similar article on and they didn't even mention the Envia batttery or GM's investment in Envia systems. They seemed pretty confused about GM's claims of a 200 mile breakthrough.

    I believe the Envia battery could have the biggest potential impact on EV and EREV sales of anything on the horizon. The much higher density makes everything possible, including longer range, lighter weight and lower cost EVs. The nano-tech materials make way more sense than inremental imrpovements in existing chemistry.

    I just hope the Envia battery works properly in the real word.

  17. I own a Volt and I love it. I generally get between 38 and 41 miles from the battery, depending on driving conditions, outside temperature, etc. I'm always disappointed when the gasoline engine comes on. I would love to see additional electric mileage from the car, but I don't really need 200 miles. I really just need about 60 miles and I'd be very happy.

  18. would you take it if there was a extra battery module you could plug in in the trunk, to get an extra 15 miles of range?

  19. Pat, I certainly can't speak for Stuart, but I also drive a Volt. For me, only 15 more miles would not be worth much, but again, this is for my personal needs and is based on my usage, commute to work, etc...

    I would love to get a little higher, say from 35-40 to about 80. I'd be happy with any improvement, of course, but that would probably trigger a possible purchase/lease by me again.

    In the end, though, I'm out of my Volt lease in 2015 and would prefer to go pure EV if possible. Since I drive a fair amount for work, though, range is a serious concern.

  20. I think one major limitation today for BEVs is range vs cost. That is NOT a problem with ICE or hybrids. You can buy a $15k gas car that gives you 400 mile range or you can buy a $100k car that gives you 400 mile range.

    For BEVs, every 20 miles more range seems to cost you another $20k at least... That will be a limitation on wide adoption of BEVs...

  21. I am a happy owner of a Nissan Leaf. I can get a range of 100-121 miles with a trickle charge. I have heard that there is work on battery design that could result in a 600 + range. That would be a real breakthrough. There should be a design consisting of the body skin of an EV that was covered with solar cells that could give a continual charge even on an overcast day. There are experimental designs of photo voltaic vehicles.

  22. Put that same battery in a leaf... Or for that fact any other electric car an range worries will be a thing of the past.... The best is here but the better is yet to come

  23. I hope battery technology improves dramatically...right after I sell my Volt... ;)

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