Chevrolet EV minicar to use A123 battery pack

Image: Chevy Spark EV.jpg

Chevrolet will sell the Spark in the U.S. and Canada with a 1.2-L, 83-hp four-cylinder engine in 2012. The Spark is currently sold in Europe, South Korea, India, Mexico, South America, and Australia. The Spark EV joins the lineup in 2013. Details about the updated Spark will be announced during press days of the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show.

When the Chevrolet Spark EV reaches select global markets in 2013, the minicar will use an A123 Systems battery pack.

"We will have more details on the technology and the vehicle's expected range closer to launch," Jim Federico, General Motors' Executive Director-Group Vehicle Line Executive/Vehicle Chief Engineer for Global Compact, Small, Mini, and Electric Vehicles, said during the Chevrolet Centennial International Media Program at General Motors' world headquarters in Detroit on Oct. 12.

Chevrolet's electrified vehicle offerings include the extended-range electric Volt (with battery cells supplied by LG Chem) as well as the 2013 Chevrolet midsize Malibu Eco sedan, whose eAssist system combines a 15-kW electric motor-generator, 2.4-L Ecotec direct-injection four-cylinder engine, and a 115-V Li-ion energy storage system with an integrated power converter.

According to Federico, feedback from global demonstration fleets—including the Beat EV in India, Sail EV in Shanghai, and Cruze EV in South Korea—confirms that EVs represent a viable solution for customers living in traffic-congested urban centers.

California and other select U.S. and global locales will get the Spark EV, which will use A123 Systems' prismatic Li-ion battery cells manufactured at the company's Livonia, MI, facility—the largest Li-ion manufacturing plant in North America.

According to Jason Forcier, Vice President of A123's Automotive Solutions Group, "These cells are designed to deliver high power, increased usable energy, long life, and excellent safety—serving as the building blocks on which we build modules and full systems for passenger and commercial plug-in hybrids and pure electric vehicles."

Neither GM nor A123 is revealing details about the battery technology—including the number of cells—until a later date.

Forcier told AEI that A123 was selected as the Spark EV's battery systems supplier "because we provided the ideal solution for GM's needs in terms of packaging and operation requirements while meeting cost targets."

A123's battery packs include the cells, associated electronics, and enclosures.

"This is the first time GM has contracted a supplier to provide the complete battery packs for one of its vehicles, so we feel this is strong validation of both our advanced Nanophosphate Li-ion technology as well as our systems engineering capabilities," noted Forcier.

The current passenger vehicle customer list for A123 includes BMW (two HEVs), Fisker Automotive (the Karma PHEV), and China's largest automaker, Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. (a plug-in HEV, an HEV, and an EV, all sold under the Roewe brand). A123 also provides its Li-ion battery technology to the truck and bus segment, including Smith Electric Vehicles, Navistar, Daimler, ALTe, and BAE Systems.

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