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GM's 200-Mile Electric Sonic EV For 2017: What We Know So Far: UPDATED Page 3

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2014 Chevrolet Spark EV - First Drive, Portland, July 2013

2014 Chevrolet Spark EV - First Drive, Portland, July 2013

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The Sonic nameplate is specific to North America, where the previous-generation Aveo was so disliked (and often known only as a rental car) that the model name was retired.

We still don't expect any hamburger or hedgehog tie-ins for the marketing, though.

BATTERY TECHNOLOGY

As of 2015, General Motors plug-in vehicles now all use lithium-ion cells from the Korean maker LG Chem, which is producing them in its Michigan fabrication plant.

The Spark EV, introduced for 2014 with cells from A123 Systems, switched to LG Chem cells for its 2015 model--and the Volt has always used a battery containing LG Chem cells.

Mock-up of LG Chem battery for Chevrolet Volt

Mock-up of LG Chem battery for Chevrolet Volt

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So we expect a Chevrolet Sonic EV to use LG Chem cells as well--and that may have been confirmed by a July comment made by LG Chem's chief financial officer.

As reported in Reuters, CFO Cho Suk-jeh said the company will supply batteries in 2016 for an electric car with a range of 200 miles or more.

He did not specify which carmaker it would be for, but the pool of suspects is relatively small.

The cells are likely to be a newer generation than those used in today's Volts, though that car has now had three different cells in its pack since 2011, with changes made to the 2013 and 2015 models as well.

A further revision for 2017 would be on the right cycle for introducing a cell that can hold more energy at a lower cost per kilowatt-hour

GM declines to comment

Green Car Reports asked GM about the predicted volume, which the company predictably declined to give.

"We do not comment on potential future product and volume speculation," said Kevin Kelly, GM's manager of electrification technology communications.

So while we expect to start to learn more about the 2016 Volt this fall, we don't expect anything substantial out of Chevrolet on the 200-mile electric car for a year or more.

The company will likely want to focus all its publicity on a single vehicle: the new, updated, more capable 2016 Chevy Volt that'll be unveiled next January.

The wait for news on a 200-mile electric car may seem like a very long time indeed--and there will be a drumbeat of news about the Tesla Model 3 and the next Nissan Leaf in the meanwhile.

Over to you, Chevrolet.

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