Auto Electronics

GM testing Li-Ion batteries

General Motors is reportedly placing lithium-ion batteries in Chevrolet Malibus fitted with internal systems being developed for the extended-range plug-in electric Volt. The Volt is expected to launch in November 2010.

GM said engineers at its battery test facilities have developed a new computer algorithm to accelerate durability testing of the Li-Ion batteries needed to power the Volt for up to 40 miles (64 km) of electric-only driving. The computer program duplicates real-life vehicle speed and cargo-carrying conditions, and compresses 10 years of comprehensive battery testing into the Volt’s development schedule.

Battery cycling equipment is used around the clock in GM test facilities in Warren, Michigan and Mainz-Kastel, Germany. The equipment charges and discharges power from the prototype batteries based on the Volt’s approximately 40-mile electric-only drive cycle. Results from this test data will help predict the long-term durability of the battery.

“Production timing of the Volt is directly related to our ability to predict how this battery will perform over the life of the vehicle. The challenge is predicting 10 years of battery life with just over two years of testing time,” said Frank Weber, global vehicle chief engineer, Chevrolet Volt and E-Flex systems. Weber said the Volt is the No. 1 priority project within GM.

The T-shaped battery is approximately 6 feet (1.8 m) long and weighs more than 375 pounds (170 kg). It will be located down the center tunnel of the vehicle and under the rear seats. Simulation data indicates that the center placement provides greater protection to the battery.

The Volt will be powered by an electric motor fed by lithium-ion batteries. A small conventional engine will extend the vehicle’s range to the equivalent of 150 miles per-gallon. To reduce mass, the Volt is being engineered with a relatively small fuel tank that reduces weight but still provides a driving range in excess of 400 miles between fill-ups.

GM says it has yet to decide on the engine or select one of the two suppliers who have developed the batteries.

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