General Motors is moving forward with the Chevy Volt:
General Motors has announced it will work directly with A123 Systems, a start-up based in Watertown, MA, to develop batteries that are fine-tuned for the Chevrolet Volt, an electric vehicle scheduled for production in 2010 or 2011. The new agreement between the companies is designed to speed the vehicle to market.
GM has announced a series of contracts with various battery makers in recent months. The deal with A123 is viewed as an indication that GM thinks they can deliver the batteries that the Volt will require to achieve the desired 40 mile range on a single charge. A123’s advantage is explained as:
A123 uses a new lithium-ion chemistry that allows its batteries to be much lighter and more compact than the nickel metal hydride batteries in existing hybrids today, and safer than the conventional lithium ion batteries found in consumer electronics.
According to the GM link, 78% of all commutes are less than 40 miles. If GM can deliver a reasonably-priced vehicle that can achieve this range, then it could be a huge step toward the eventual (and necessary) electrification of our transportation infrastructure. I say “could be”, because people are still going to have to buy them. If, for instance, the battery packs are incredibly expensive to change out, or there are other issues with the car, all bets are off. But I am optimistic about their chances. However, reading some of the statements GM has made, I don’t think they will have them in production until after 2011.