Bolt EV Powertrain: How Did GM And LG Collaborate On Design, Production?

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2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV

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In last fall's runup to the launch of the production 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV 200-mile electric car, GM discussed working together with Korean corporate giant LG on the Bolt's development.

Mark Reuss, GM’s head of global product development said in October that the company's partnership with LG Chem was "unprecedented."

The cooperation was formally announced more than four years ago, in August 2011, by GM's then-CEO Dan Akerson and Juno Cho, president and chief operating officer of LG Corp.

DON'T MISS: 2017 Chevy Bolt EV Development: GM, LG Chem Reveal Deep Partnership

Since then, a few electric-car advocates have suggested that GM had outsourced Bolt EV development wholesale to its Korean partner.

The transcript of an October media roundtable on the strategic partnership--formally titled the "GM-LG Chevrolet Bolt EV Relationship Announcement"--gives more detail on the balance of conceptual, design, specification, testing, validation, and production responsibilities between GM and LG.

GM designed the electric traction motor and the battery-control system, was responsible for all integration of the powertrain into the vehicle itself, and validated all systems.

Mark Reuss discusses GM-LG Chem partnership on Bolt EV electric car [photo: Jeffrey Sauger for GM]

Mark Reuss discusses GM-LG Chem partnership on Bolt EV electric car [photo: Jeffrey Sauger for GM]

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LG Chem--which supplies lithium-ion cells from Holland, Michigan, for the Chevrolet Volt and Spark EV, and the Cadillac ELR and CT6 Plug-In Hybrid--designed, engineered, and tested the Bolt EV's battery system to performance and packaging specifications supplied by GM.

Other LG units designed and supplied certain other electronic components, as well as the infotainment module for the Bolt EV. The companies include LG Chem, LG Innotek, LG Display, and LG Electronics.

In South Korea, LG Electronics is investing more than $250 million in a Korean facility to support development and manufacturing of components for the Bolt EV, most notably the electric motor.

ALSO SEE: GM's LG Electric-Car Deal Goals: Cheaper, Faster, Less Risky (Aug 2011)

It will also manufacture the car's power electronics modules to specifications mandated by GM.

Specifically, according to GM , LG Chem will manufacture and supply all of the following systems:

  • Lithium-ion Battery Cells and Battery Pack
  • Battery Heater
  • Electric Drive Motor (GM design)
  • Power Inverter Module for DC-to-AC conversion (GM design)
  • Onboard Battery Charger
  • Electric Compressor for Climate-Control System
  • High-Power Distribution Module
  • Accessory Low-Power Module
  • Power Line Communication Module (for communication with DC quick-charging station) 
  • Instrument Cluster
  • Infotainment System

That list includes parts and assemblies jointly designed by both companies.

GM CEO Dan Akerson & Juno Cho, COO of LG Corp., agree to cooperate on future electric vehicles

GM CEO Dan Akerson & Juno Cho, COO of LG Corp., agree to cooperate on future electric vehicles

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LG will deliver 11 unique components for the Bolt EV that it "worked closely with GM in developing," according to Ken Chang, vice president of vehicle components at LG Electronics.

That unit was set up two years ago to allow LG to supply vehicle powertrain components, which it hadn't done previously--although it had long supplied infotainment systems to the global auto industry.

According to Reuss and global electrification director Pam Fletcher at the roundtable, the contract manufacturing model shifts some of the investment needed to build and operate plants to produce those parts from GM to LG.

CHECK OUT: First Drive: Chevy Bolt EV 200-Mile Electric Car Development Vehicle

"We intend to do [better electric vehicles] better, more efficiently, and more cost effectively than anybody else can," Reuss said.

Reuss called the two companies' partnership "a different kind of OEM-supplier relationship" that was an "expansion" of the collaborative work that had started in 2008.

That was when GM awarded LG Chem the cell contract for what became the 2011 Chevrolet Volt range-extended electric car, and resulted in LG and GM "working side by side to develop battery technology that is now the envy of the industry," in his words.

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