New GM Lab to Supercharge Ultium Cells in Valley | News, Sports, Jobs

A huge electric vehicle battery lab that General Motors is building on the outskirts of Detroit will accelerate new battery technologies and production methods used at Ultium Cells in Lordstown, according to the automaker.

Structural steel is already in place for the 300,000 square foot laboratory on the ground at GM’s Technical Center in Warren, Michigan. This is where scientists will be working on the chemistry to cut costs by 60% compared to current vehicles and allow people to go 500-600 miles per charge.

Executives say the lab – the Wallace Battery Cell Innovation Center, announced on Tuesday – will be up and running by mid to late next year and will house hundreds of engineers and others who will work on innovations in battery matters and their manufacture.

“We need to make better batteries that cost a lot less” said Tim Grewe, GM’s director of battery cell engineering and strategy.

GM said it was spending “Hundreds of millions of dollars” about the lab but would not give details. The lab will employ hundreds of them, but GM wouldn’t give an exact number either. Executives said there would be new hires.

The automaker is working on several new battery chemistries, including solid state ones, which contain a solid conductive material instead of the liquid electrolyte found in most current lithium-ion batteries. Solid-state batteries can store more energy, extend range, or allow smaller batteries.

The lab will also be working on building larger battery cells, which can lower costs as well.

Scientists and building engineers will work with GM research and manufacturing engineers who are already busy with new GM electric vehicles and battery designs. People from GM’s two joint venture battery factories in Lordstown and Spring Hill, Tenn., Will also occasionally be in the lab. It will be able to produce prototypes of batteries.

At the two sites, South Korea’s GM and LG Energy Solution have partnered in a joint venture to mass-produce battery cells for electric vehicles.

Investments are around $ 2.3 billion each.

In Lordstown, the nearly 3 million square foot factory – large enough to hold 30 football pitches – on Tod Avenue SW is expected to be virtually complete by year-end with a first phase of production starting early by 2022. 1,100 people at full capacity.

GM is expected to see the benefits of the Warren, Michigan facility by the middle of the decade, executives said.

Currently, GM’s only fully electric offerings are the Chevrolet Bolt and a Bolt utility vehicle. The Bolt is capable of going 259 miles on a single charge and starts at around $ 32,000. The cars are being recalled due to a series of battery fires.

The Detroit-based automaker plans to spend $ 35 billion on electric and autonomous vehicles from 2020 to 2025. It plans to deploy 30 new electric vehicles globally by 2025 and aims to sell only electric passenger vehicles from 2020 to 2025. ‘by 2035.

GM appears to be in a duel with crosstown rival Ford over battery factory and lab announcements. Ford announced it last week and a partner is reportedly spending more than $ 11 billion on three battery factories and an electric vehicle assembly plant in Tennessee and Kentucky. Previously, Ford announced the construction of a battery lab in Romulus, Michigan, near Detroit.

Ford predicts that 40 to 50% of its sales in the United States will be electric by 2030.

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