GM picks Korean LG Chem Unit to supply Volt batteries, bad news for startup A123 Systems

October 23 2008 / by Garry Golden
Category: Environment   Year: 2011   Rating: 1

Energy storage is the key to accelerating the era of electric vehicles powered by a combination of batteries, hydrogen fuel cells and capacitors. Of these three, batteries are expected to be the primary energy storage device for the first generation of commercial electric vehicles like the GM Volt.

Big Auto turns to Big Chem
According to a Reuters report General Motors has selected Compact Power Inc a Detroit-area based unit of South Korea’s LG Chem Ltd to supply lithium-ion batteries for its Chevrolet Volt which the company expects to produce 10,000 vehicles in 2011 before scaling up.

The decision supports GM’s intentions. of electrifying its transportation fleet and trying to shed the manufacturing and design liabilities of the combustion engine. Electric cars are coming, but energy storage remains our greatest challenge!

The Future of Energy Storage Startups
Many energy pundits had hoped that General Motors might go with new nanostructured lithium ion batteries from start up A123 Systems. That news would have been welcomed by cleantech energy investors hoping that at least one start up might break into the energy storage sector. But now it appears GM has gone to a bigger, more established chemical company and industrial battery maker. This is a harsh reminder to startups that ‘scaling’ matters and incumbents are likely to hold that advantage.

But we expect energy storage will continue to be a major area for investment and growth in the months and years ahead. While startups like AltairNano and A123 Systems might find it difficult to compete head to head against incumbent chemical and battery companies, their innovative technologies are not likely to be shoved under the rug. Acquisitions and strategic partnerships could be a wonderful way to scale up nanostructured energy storage systems.

Hydrogen and Capacitors
Electric cars are complicated machines and will require a combination of electric storage devices. Fortunately there are other ways to store electrons beyond batteries. We can store electricity in the form of chemical bonds of hydrogen. Or we can store electricity as a physical charge in capacitors.

Of these two, we expect to see emergence of fuel cells and solid hydrogen storage alternatives to join batteries in electric cars during the next decade. Capacitors should not be too far beyond!

But for now, it appears that Big Auto is more likely to partner with Big Chem in bringing the first wave of electric cars to dealership floors.

Related posts:
GM plans to kill Combustion Engine
US firm buys Korean battery maker
Warren Buffety buys China Battery maker BYD
Detroit to World, Nobody Killed the Electric Car

Via – GM Volt site

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