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GM launches $8M expansion of Warren battery lab

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GM launches $8M expansion of Warren battery lab

Alisa Priddle / The Detroit News

General Motors Co. announced today it will invest $8 million to double its largest U.S. battery lab, in Warren, to speed development of electric vehicles.

The Global Battery Systems Lab is part of GM's Technical Center campus and is responsible for testing battery cells, modules and packs that are used to power electric vehicles including hybrids and extended-range electric vehicles such as the Chevrolet Volt, which will go on sale in November.

GM plans to build a 33,000-square-foot addition to the 30,000-square-foot lab that is housed within GM's Alternative Energy Center facility.

In a sign of future trends, the investment includes renovating areas previously used for engine testing for battery development.

Construction is to begin this month and be completed this summer.

"GM is building on its commitment to lead the development of electric vehicle technology, from battery cell design to the charging infrastructure, and today's investment furthers our work in this area," said Micky Bly, GM executive director in charge of global electrical systems, hybrids, electric vehicles and batteries.

"This addition will benefit consumers by helping us put cleaner, more efficient vehicles, including the Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle with extended range, on the road more quickly and affordably," Bly said in a statement.

The battery lab was created in early 2009 as part of GM's commitment to bring battery technology expertise in-house. The lab was fully operational by May, employing more than 1,000 engineers working on electric vehicles and the advanced battery systems needed to power them. GM plans to add another 40 or 50 jobs as part of its continued growth plan, but it is unrelated to the physical expansion of the facility, which is creating no new jobs, per se.

Testing is key to development of the new technology.

"Consolidating these testing capabilities at the Global Battery Systems Lab will reduce costs, provide a competitive advantage, quicken the pace of development and ensure we will design, build and sell the world's best vehicles." Bly said.

The U.S. lab work is being integrated with GM's global network of battery labs, including Mainz Kastel, Germany, and Shanghai, China, so the three can exchange data and seamlessly share the workload.

GM also has facilities in Honeoye Falls, N.Y., and the GM Technical Center's Research Chemical Engineering facility working on electric vehicles.

The automaker began making battery packs at a new facility in Brownstown Township in January.

From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20100412/AUTO01/4120387/1148/auto01/GM-launches-$8M-expansion-of-Warren-battery-lab#ixzz0kulRwyfj

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