• Aug 23rd 2007 at 9:56AM
  • 13

Yesterday, Sam pointed out in a late-night posting that GM might be planning on producing as many as 60,000 Volts in its first year of manufacture. It is thought that GM could make a profit on the vehicle if it sold that many for a bit under $30,000. But, is it possible?

According to Menahem Anderman, president of Advanced Automotive Batteries, maybe not. He said, A 60,000-unit target "is totally ridiculous at this point. To reach that level by 2010, they'd need to be placing the orders right now." He went on to suggest that A123, GM's battery supplier of choice, does not have "experience in high-volume manufacturing on such a scale."

What does Toyota think about all of this conjecture? According to Irv Miller from Toyota, "We have consistently affirmed that there are many issues that need to be resolved, beyond the safety and reliability of lithium-ion batteries, before a commercial lithium-ion-equipped hybrid – and what we're talking about here is the so-called plug-in hybrid, or PHEV - is ready for the market.

"These issues include battery cost, availability, performance and packaging. All of the car makers face the same problems when it comes to these issues. The answers, unfortunately, are not just around the corner... They will appear only when our high standards are met."

So, what do you think? Will GM beat Toyota to market with a plug-in hybrid using lithium ion batteries? Will they be able to make 60,000 of them in the first year of production? You have the floor.

[Source: Bloomberg and Toyota's blog]



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  • 13 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      Just speculating here, but A123 and Cobasys are working jointly for GM on these lithium batteries. While the chemistry is A123, Cobasys has a state of the art mfg plant and is already certified as a tier 1 supplier and integrator of battery systems. which takes in the elctronics and software to monitor and control the batteries operation. Its possible they might be involved in the mfg, though they're already committed to supplying Nimh systems for GM's two mode and mild hybrid modeels coming out this fall.
      • 7 Years Ago
      In a recent news atricle, Bob Lutz stated that only about 10,000 Volts would be made the first yearof production ... Get the link to this article at:
      http://GM-Volt.blogspot.com
      • 8 Years Ago
      I think one way to look at it is that they need to make that many to be able to offer the car at that price point. From the beginning, in every conversation I have had with GM executives, that is the approach to the problem - they must execute the program at a very large scale to make the costs and pricing work. That leaves you with a couple of key questions. The first one is whether there is a market for the car at those volumes, which GM believes there is. I believe there might be, if GM delivers on the current specs and if the car looks good and drives well. The thing that may complicate the picture is what competitive offerings there are in the marketplace from Toyota, particularly in a plug-in prius with similar or close "electric range" (albeit in parallel hybrid configuration, not range-extended EV).

      The second issue is battery availability. Any program in large volume will strain the current supply because the automotive sector is a brand new one for Li-ion cells and the growth looks to be staggering. To me, that means a great opportunity for battery manufacturers who are willing to invest in capacity. I visited a battery manufacturer in Japan who had a line that manufactured over 30 million cells a year that was manned by 5 people. That is the state of automation today. The only question is whether a cell manufacturer sees enough opportunity to invest in the additional capacity.
      • 8 Years Ago
      First off, the VOLT may use batteries from LG or A123 Systems, or both. LG produces more batteries than any company in th eworld - that's 1 million per day. I notice that skeptics don't even realize this. There is also the queation about what you mean by 60,000 VOLTs. There will be an Opel crossover that was announced last week that will debut in 2010 along with the VOLT, using a diesel range extender. So what does the 60,000 figure refer to? Sounds like whoever said that is so ignorant that they don't realize that there will be more than one E-Flex vehicle that debuts that year. My advice - look to the www.gm-volt.com (unofficial) website for any and all VOLT info and don't believe media stories that have no access to the insiders who are developing the story. We have already seen quite a few rumors that were shown to be lies. And forget the fools who claim GM won't build the car. The car has the highest priority of any car ever developed at GM and the batteries are working and meet specs. There is absolutely no
      obstacle in the way to a 2010 launch.
      • 8 Months Ago
      Thanks a lot for article. If you use Rapidshare, you must know Rapidshare Search Engine ( http://rapidqueen.com ) - Easy Way To Find Files!
      • 8 Years Ago
      kert: A car uses a lot more batteries than a power tool. It's a major difference, so Anderman's concern is valid. A123 could still do it by investing in their capacity, but if GM hasn't given them an order yet, the won't have the justification (or the capital) to make it happen.

      GM is also talking about different battery formats, which would probably require an all-new production line. Again, lots of cash is needed to do that, which GM has not yet (as far as I know) supplied.

      I agree large format cells are the future, but existing-format cells are the present and the only way to go if you want to deliver a product in large quantities within the next three years.

      GM will probably not be able to hit 60,000 in year one if they go for a new cell format, because they would almost certainly be the first customer and would suffer the growing pains of the new technology.
      • 8 Years Ago
      A123 doesn't actually manufacture their cells - they contract it out to an Asian manufacturer, so I don't think their lack of experience in manufacturing is necessarily a problem. It is odd, though, that GM has been so "anti-asian" as a supply source for their EV batteries for competitive reasons yet they are, at the end of the day, sourcing their cells from Asia if they go With A123
      • 8 Years Ago
      Apparently no one here is aware of one of the requirements as supplier to GM - that the company had to have theability to produce at least 100,000
      battery packs per year. LG can do far more than that, as can A123 Systems, which has factories in China.
      • 8 Years Ago
      GM is never going to market a PHEV. Never.

      All the hype is nothing more than a marketing gimmick.

      Next year will find out that the date has been pushed to 2012 or beyond.

      Toyota is not stupid.

      • 8 Years Ago
      from my research on nimh: the latest version, not yet used commercially, approaches A123 Lithium battery in storage capacity, but does not have enough deep discharge cycle capacity for a plug in hybrid. You can bet they're working on it furiously though.
      • 8 Years Ago
      simple answer: go with NiMH

      Longer answer: A123 is definitely shipping volumes in deWalt powertools, so Andermans claim is bogus. Whether their current market price of roughly $1000/kwh is anywhere close to being economical in 40PHEV, is another story altogether.
      However, there are no fundamental reaons why LiFePO4 batteries should be as expensive as their LiCOO2 older brothers, due do the simple fact that they dont contain anything nearly as expensive as Cobalt. So if we (ever) get some more competition by cell manufacturers, prices should drop rapidly.

      Everything hinges on success on making large format LiFePO4 batteries available at affordable prices. How about IPO, A123 ? PHET ? Valence ? Any other takers ?
      • 8 Years Ago
      Drilling back to the original Bloomberg article, it refers to "people with knowledge of GM's plans". It may well be that GM is releasing a trial balloon to test market reaction and draw media attention away from Toyota's PHEV effort.

      If it turns out A123 couldn't actually deliver enough batteries tobuild 60,000 vehicles in year 1, GM can always claim to have been "misquoted" since none of their execs is on record promising that number. Ye olde switch-and-bait.
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