|General Motors is building a new 300,000-square-foot battery research facility in Michigan to help it realize its mission of building electric vehicle batteries that are longer-lasting, quicker to charge, and more sustainable for the environment. Through this new center, GM is setting the stage for a battery breakthrough that will help it build electric vehicles that can travel as much as 600 miles on a single charge — roughly twice the range of most EVs on the road today. |
The new facility will be named the Wallace Battery Innovation Center after Bill Wallace, a battery engineer at GM who died in 2018. The center will be located in Warren, Michigan, near the campus of the automaker’s 710-acre Technical Center in Southeast Michigan. GM wouldn’t disclose the number of engineers that will eventually fill the center’s labs, nor would it say much money it would cost to build, but expects it to be in the “hundreds of millions of dollars.”
“LARGE FORMAT PROTOTYPE CELLS, UP TO A METER WIDE OR EVEN WIDER”
The innovation center will be “one of the only ones in North America that can use large format prototype cells, up to a meter wide or even wider than that, with uniform stacked electrodes,” said Ken Morris, vice president for electric and autonomous vehicles at GM.
The goal is to produce batteries with an energy density of “up to 1,200 watt-hours per liter,” Morris said — a staggering number that some experts have questioned. “And that means that you can easily have a 500- or a 600-mile vehicle on a single charge that’s possible, creating a new reality for our customers.”
That would be beyond the range advertised for its Ultium battery architecture, which the company has said would allow for driving ranges of “400 miles or more.” When they were first announced, GM said that it would design its Ultium batteries to be large-format, pouch-style cells, compared to cylindrical cells that are used by Tesla and others. This enables them to be stacked vertically or horizontally inside the battery pack, as the automaker sees fit.
“With these high-energy-density, low-cost vehicles, we really think we can have a better package that’s less mass, better for the vehicle, better for the customer, and it can be the reality as quickly as we can through the Wallace Innovation Center,” Morris added.
Read more: GM envisions electric vehicles with 600 miles of range with new battery research center