GM has been developing a plugin 2-mode hybrid since 2006. It was at first to be deployed in the Saturn VUE. The host vehicle was later changed to a compact Buick SUV when the Saturn division was sold. That decision too was scrapped, however, GM still intends to sell the drivetrain in some vehicle in 2011.
Although GM has decided to do pack assembly in-house for the Chevy Volt, apparently they have decided to let LG Chem subsidiary Compact Power assemble the packs for the plugin hybrid themselves.
“We will be supplying the production packs,” Compact Power CEO Prabahkar Patil told GM-Volt.com. “Those production packs will not be made by GM. We will actually be making them but in volume production.”
He explains that LG Chem and GM’s “relationship of course goes well beyond the Volt.”
The 2-mode plugin pack will be half the size of the Volt’s, consisting of 8 kwh of lithium ion cells.
“It’s a different form factor because its tailored to fit in the vehicle its intended for,” says Patil. “It is a different configuration, but there is quite a bit that is shared with Volt in terms of technology. The cell for example will be the same.”
He says that the thermal management system will also be “very similar” to the one used in the Volt.
“We try to commonize as much as we can,” he says. “That will always be our approach, to bring the cost down because of the volumes being higher and secondly because when you are reusing something it doesn’t require as much additional validation and testing and that also helps being the cost down and actually make the quality more robust.”
Patil says the packs will be made in a facility in Michigan that LG Chem just acquired in the past few months and refurbished. He says that right now the facility is “still in the prototype phase as that’s where we are also making the Volt prototype packs.”
GM has not announced what production volume they expect for the 2-mode plugin hybrid.
Patil gives some guidance be explaining that when the current LG facility “gets some automation by the end of next year, it will have the capacity of 2500 of the large Volt type packs or as much as 10,000 of smaller packs.”
“The capacity depends on the nature and size of the pack,” he says.