GM CEO with Chevy Volt "mule" during dedication of the automaker's new battery lab. Governor Jennifer Granholm and product engineering chief Jim Queen are to Henderson's left.
Calling it “the lifeblood of our future,” General Motors CEO Fritz Henderson officially opened the automaker’s new battery lab, at the GM Technical Center, this morning.
The facility is designed to help develop the next-generation lithium-ion batteries that the automaker hopes to use in future products, such as the Chevrolet Volt extended-range-electric vehicle, or E-REV, which it plans to put on the market around November 2010.
The lab was opened at least five months ahead of schedule, GM officials noted, during a dedication ceremony and subsequent tour, and should help ensure that the Volt makes it to market on time.
“Electrically-driven vehicles provide the best alternative for a sustainable future,” declared Jim Queen, the bankrupt automaker’s top engineer. The challenge, he and other company officials later added, is making sure that GM can come up with batteries that meet public expectation for range, cost and durability.
That’s the role of the new battery lab, which is housed on the sprawling Tech Center campus, in the Detroit suburb of Warren, Michigan. It replaces a smaller and less technically sophisticated facility only a quarter of its size. The new lab measures 33,000 square feet and can put more than 200 battery packs through their paces at a time, on test stands and thermal chambers designed to simulate the worst possible conditions a vehicle like the Volt might face.
This has resulted in the drastic reduction in development time and will significant speed up time to market,” asserted Queen.
In all, the lab can draw as much as 6 megawatts from the electric grid-enough for 1500 typical homes – though about 90 percent of that energy can also be pumped back out, as much of the testing involves seeing how well the batteries can store and then release energy. (more…)