GM introduces electric vehicle development leadership and local plans
Sean Welch - CleanMPG
- July 27, 2010
General Motors hosted the Electrification Plugging into the Future Forum today at the SAIC-GM Pavilion at World Expo 2010 Shanghai.
The third installment of GM's "Drive to 2030": Sustainable Urban Mobility Forum series brought together Chinese government officials, experts from local universities and members of the business community to discuss both the process and direction of electrification as well as the changes in the automotive industry that are being triggered by green technologies.
Following the success of the first two forums, The Pathway to Sustainable Mobility forum in May and The Mobility Internet Connecting the Virtual Superhighway forum in June, today's forum focused on the fundamental driving force of future vehicles.
To cope with the challenges brought by increasing urban traffic including energy shortages, environmental pollution, traffic congestion and road safety, GM has been focusing on the development of advanced vehicle technologies. The development of electrification has been part of the strategic focus of the company.
GM Leads the Pathway to Electrification Globally and in China
GM Vice President of Global Vehicle Engineering Karl Stracke discussed GM's vehicle electrification pathway, from hybrids to electric vehicles to fuel cells. According to Stracke, energy alternatives and advanced technologies that help reduce dependency on petroleum, improve fuel economy and reduce emissions are the keys to developing sustainable transportation.
"GM is dedicated to providing the best personal mobility solutions by delivering advanced automotive technologies," Stracke said. "For China and its rapid urbanization, vehicle electrification represents one of the best solutions. It can reduce the reliance of transportation on petroleum, dramatically decrease the impact of emissions on the environment, and efficiently use multiple types of renewable energy."
Stracke discussed in detail the leading technologies adopted in the Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle with extended range capability, which will be launched in the U.S. later this year. The Volt is the only electric vehicle that can operate under a full range of climates and driving conditions without limitations or concern about being stranded by a depleted battery. It has a range of about 540 kilometers and is powered with electricity at all times. For up to the first 60 kilometers, the Volt is powered solely by electricity stored in its 16-kWh lithium-ion battery, using no fuel and producing no emissions.
Based on the battery's importance to the customer, GM has conducted stringent tests and recently announced an industry-leading warranty. "With more than 150 of the Volt's battery components validated to withstand extreme temperatures, terrain and driving patterns, GM is making a commitment to our customers to deliver the highest standards for value, safety, quality, performance and reliability for an unprecedented eight years/100,000 miles (160,000 kilometers)," Stracke said.
"GM continues to introduce the most advanced electric vehicle products and technologies to China, which is a key part of our global electrification strategy," said Kevin Wale, President and Managing Director of the GM China Group. "We will intensify the research and testing in China of advanced propulsion systems, which include electrification technologies such as batteries, electric motors and power controls, through the GM China Science Lab and the newly established GM China Advanced Technical Center to accelerate the realization of GM's electrification strategy."
Shanghai GM, the flagship joint venture of General Motors in China, will launch several hybrid and electric vehicles within the coming months. This year, it will complete the development of a prototype of the Chevrolet New Sail electric vehicle. In 2011, the new Buick LaCrosse hybrid and the Chevrolet Volt will be introduced in China.
GM Announces Global Battery Electric Vehicle Demo Fleet
Hybrids, plug-in hybrids, electric vehicles with extended range such as the Chevrolet Volt, pure electric vehicles and even fuel cells depend on batteries, motors and power controls to work. GM is committing significant resources in these core enabling technologies to deliver the world's best vehicles.
To strengthen GM's ability to develop these core technologies, Stracke announced that GM is establishing battery electric vehicle demo fleets in different regions using different vehicles.
These demo fleets will increase GM's competitiveness in vehicle electrification by providing GM with real-world data on driving patterns, battery charging, market needs and customer acceptance while sharing costs and resources with supplier and government partners.
Additional details about the battery-electric vehicle demo fleets will be announced in the future.
Global Experts Discuss the Future of Electrification
During today's forum, experts discussed how different stakeholders can work together to promote the electrification of the motor vehicle.
Yu Zhuoping, Dean of the Automotive School at Shanghai's Tongji University, said: "The Chinese government has begun implementing an energy-saving and emission-reduction strategy. It has set the strategic goal of developing electric vehicles, with attempts being made to explore the large-scale promotion and application of electric vehicles."
During World Expo 2010 Shanghai, the Shanghai government is carrying out a program to demonstrate up to 1,000 electric vehicles, including several vehicles from GM. This has become a major highlight of Expo 2010. According to Yu, the development of electric vehicles will play a very important role in China's effort to introduce low-carbon, green transportation and to promote the transformation and sustainable growth of the country's pillar industries.
Prabhakar Patil, CEO of Compact Power, Inc., the North American subsidiary of Korean lithium-ion battery-maker LG Chem the global supplier of lithium-ion battery packs for the Chevrolet Volt said: "The Volt represents a bold new paradigm for leading the transformation of the transportation energy equation. Its battery system, which embodies leading-edge technology, is a role model for partnership. The system represents a quantum leap from earlier technology, yet improvements are still being made. Vehicle usage will have a significant impact on the materials market, which is currently driven by consumer applications. The evolution of the business model and standardization will have an equally important impact on mass market acceptance of electrified vehicles."
According to Lai Xiaokang, Director of the Superconductivity Power Research Institute, a division of the China Electric Power Research Institute, the development of electric vehicles and widespread implementation of electric vehicle technology will create both challenges and opportunities. By 2015, annual demand for electric vehicles is expected to be between 500,000 and 1 million units in China, making it one of the world's largest markets for electric vehicles and charging facilities. Important work is under way to address the ongoing challenges associated with large-scale electric vehicle use, such as the impact on urban power grids and electrical infrastructure.