Batteries for the next generation Chevrolet Volt and Vauxhall Ampera will be developed to reduce costs, rather than increase performance or range, according to one of GM’s leading battery experts.
"We don’t need more range, there’s no point in going from 40 to 80 miles," leading GM battery engineer Joe LoGrasso told Autocar. "The cost of the batteries is crucial though. We have to have a value proposition for the customer, if not they will not buy it."
LoGrasso also pointed out that reducing the size of the battery pack for the next generation Volt and other future GM electric and hybrid vehicles was a target. He also admitted that his team were hard at work finding cheaper materials to make the battery pack and increase their efficiency or ‘energy density’ to reduce size and weight. The battery pack of the first Volt/Ampera is said to take up 110 litres of space.
The first generation Chevrolet Volt is set to go on sale in the US at the end of the year, while the mechanically identical Opel Ampera will hit showrooms at the end of 2011. Right-hand drive Vauxhall versions arrive in March 2012.
Meanwhile, Vauxhall insiders say that a decision on whether to build all European Amperas at the company’s Ellesmere Port plant in Cheshire is still a year away.
However the UK is tipped to be the biggest market for the car in Europe and "logic says you’d build it in the biggest market" according to a well placed source.
Building the car in Ellesmere Port is also likely to lead to a nearby plant being set up to make the battery packs.