Canadian Manufacturing

GM launches in-house Li-ion battery production for Spark EV

Brownstown, Mich., plant will build battery system for 2015 Chevrolet Spark EV sub-compact

The lithium-ion battery system for the 2015 Chevrolet Spark EV is built at GM's Brownstown, Mich., plant. PHOTO GM

The lithium-ion battery system for the 2015 Chevrolet Spark EV is built at GM’s Brownstown, Mich., plant. PHOTO GM

DETROIT—General Motors Co. (GM) is bringing all of its electric vehicle battery building in-house, launching production of the lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery packs for the 2015 Chevrolet Spark EV at a plant in Michigan.

According to the automaker, production of the Li-ion packs for the Spark EV will take place at its battery assembly plant in Brownstown, Mich., south of Detroit.

The plant recently received a US$65-million makeover to support next-generation electric vehicle battery production as part of a larger US$449-million investment in GM’s Michigan operations.

The Spark EV battery system is built on a dedicated line at the Brownstown plant using 192 Li-ion cells produced by LG Chem Ltd. at its facility in Holland, Mich.

The line also builds battery packs for the Chevrolet Volt, Opel Ampera and Cadillac ELR.

The GM-built battery system has an overall storage capacity of 19 kWh.

“Our successful working relationship with LG Chem has allowed us to deliver a new battery system for the Spark EV that helps us to better leverage our economies of scale,” executive director of GM global transmission and electrification engineering Larry Nitz said in a statement.

What’s more, the new battery pack for the 2015 Spark EV is lighter than than the one used in the 2014 model, according to GM.

With a total system weight of 474 lbs., the battery pack is 86 lbs. lighter than the system found in the 2014 Spark EV.

A GM spokesperson said the previous model year’s battery pack was built by a third-party supplier in the United States.

Changes in battery design will not affect the Spark’s miles per gallon equivalent (MPGe) performance or electric driving range compared to the 2014 model, the automaker said.

Electric range will remain at a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-rated 82 miles, or 132 kilometres, and MPGe will remain at 119.

The Spark EV is currently only sold in California and Oregon.

GM’s 479,000-sq.ft. Brownstown plant is a landfill-free facility.

Mass production started there in October 2010, making it the first high-volume Li-ion battery manufacturing site in the U.S. operated by a major automaker.

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