General Motors is no stranger to infusions of cash, but this time it’s the automaker whose own investment is paying dividends.
In January 2011, Detroit’s home team made an investment of $7 million into Envia Systems, a battery technology firm in Newark, California. Their hope was to be on the forefront of more efficient and cheaper Lithium-ion applications for their Chevrolet Volt.
On Monday, GM’s investment paid off. According to Envia CEO Atul Kapadia, the company had passed the last stumbling block to what many consumers have been waiting for: Cheaper electric cars that go farther.
“The cost of cells will be less than half — perhaps 45 percent — of cells today, and the energy density will be almost three times greater than conventional automotive cells,” Mr. Kapadia told the New York Times.
It’s estimated that the new cells will be able to power a vehicle over 100 miles on a single charge, for half the price of an all-electric car from Tesla Motors with a similar range. Compared to the batteries produced by Envia, however, Tesla’s power packs are about twice as heavy and twice as expensive.
GM CEO Dan Akerson is optimistic about installing the Envia batteries into the Volt within the next four years.
“I think we’ve got better than a 50-50 chance to develop a car that will go to 200 miles on a charge,” he said, “That would be a game changer.”
The current Chevy Volt can travel a mere 35 miles on electric power alone. After that, its small gasoline engine is needed to generate the required juice to go any further.