Volt Birth Watch 20: A123 Batteries Delayed

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

Chevrolet's much-hyped hybrid Volt depends entirely on cutting edge lithium-ion batteries– which is kinda weird as the car has one of the shortest development times in modern automotive history. Any delay in battery testing and development and GM's 2010 launch date will pass quicker than bad curry. Kudos to Autobloggreen for staying on top of the Volt's progress– not to mention understanding battery technology enough to ask the Volt folk intelligent questions. In fact, the discussion is so damn intelligent I'm depending on Wired to interpret the answers. And the high tech industry mag says GM hasn't received the latest A123 batteries it was "supposed to be testing last month." Uh oh. On the positive side, perhaps, "Denise Gray, the company's director of energy storage systems, uses the phrase 'so far, so good' four times while discussing the test results." Fingers crossed? "GM still has to strike a balance between power, energy storage and performance during extremely hot or cold weather." Not to mention "normal" weather. While the Volt is the one part of GM that seems to operating with what industry analyst Mary-Ann Keller called for many moons ago– a sense or urgency– there's a long, long way between final prototype and working production model. And an even wider gap between initial production model and successful product. Just look at the first Toyota Prius. Or, if you really want a clear picture of the mountain the Volt has to climb, the next Prius.

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • Redbarchetta Redbarchetta on Jan 13, 2008

    The car that will never be.

  • Stein X Leikanger Stein X Leikanger on Jan 14, 2008

    @starlightmica Very interesting. Last year Toyota said that they wouldn't be using Lithium-ion batteries due to their instability. From your link: Not Ready The planned new plug-in hybrids would use lithium-ion batteries. Last year, Toyota officials had said that lithium batteries for plug-ins weren't ready for consumer use and couldn't gauge market demand. ``The advanced lithium-ion batteries that the Volt would use, batteries suitable for the long-term rigors of everyday automotive use, don't exist,'' Irv Miller, Toyota's U.S. vice president for corporate communications, wrote on a company Web site in September. ... Lithium-ion batteries aren't currently available in large quantities, cost more and are harder to produce than nickel- metal batteries, and can burn if they overheat. ``The challenge for commercializing lithium batteries for plug-in hybrids is manufacturing,'' said Menahem Anderman, president of industry consultant Advanced Automotive Batteries, in Oregon House, California.

  • Jazbo123 Jazbo123 on Jan 14, 2008

    I don't think I'd charge these things in my garage. May out at the end of the driveway.