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

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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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