Before his departure as top dog at General Motors, Dan Akerson laid out plans for his company to develop lighter electric vehicles with at least 200 miles of range per charge. According to Reuters, South Korea battery supplier LG Chem has now announced that in 2016 it will introduce batteries for electric vehicles with 200-mile ranges. Given that the next generation of the Chevrolet Volt is rumored for 2016, and Akerson made clear his plans to give it an improved range capacity, we think the batteries could very well be destined for the next Volt.
LG already supplies batteries to General Motors for the Chevrolet Spark EV and current Chevrolet Volt. General Motors in the past expressed its desire to be a global leader in electric vehicle sales by 2018, by increasing vehicle range and keeping costs low enough to undercut competitors like Tesla. To keep the current Volt competitive with other electrics and plug-in hybrids, Chevrolet recently slashed the price $5000 (to $34,995 including delivery) last August.
The 2014 Chevrolet Volt (pictured) currently achieves a combined rating of 37 mpg with a 38-mile all-electric range. It uses a 1.4-liter four-cylinder engine as a generator for the battery and range extender when the battery is depleted. Rumors have surfaced that the next Chevrolet Volt, which Akerson hoped would have an all-electric range at least 20 percent better than that of the current model, could switch to a smaller 1.0-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine. It will in all likelihood depart from its current Delta platform to a new architecture more suited to extended-range electric technology.
If not the Volt, GM could still potentially use LG batteries for a new electric vehicle model. In March of 2013, Akerson said GM was developing two electric vehicles with 100-200-mile ranges per charge. General Motors also plans to invest $449 million to upgrade and retool its Detroit-Hamtramck Chevrolet Volt assembly plant. Once the renovations are done, the plant will be home to production for, you guessed it, two as-yet-unspecified models.