General Motors and South Korean conglomerate LG today announced a partnership to jointly develop electric vehicles for sale in different countries.
LG supplies lithium ion battery cells and battery packs for the Chevrolet Volt and the European edition of the Volt, called the Opel Ampera. Although details in today's press release were scant, GM said it intends to expand that battery supply relationship to engineer new electric vehicles.
"Many solutions for tomorrow's transportation needs may be available more quickly by building on our partnership strategy," said GM Vice Chairman Steve Girsky in a statement. "Consumers benefit by getting the latest fuel-saving technology faster if we work with the best suppliers and we save time and money in the development process."
Engineers from the two companies will jointly work on components of electric vehicles, including "vehicle structures and architectures," they said.
The partnership between GM and LG, which has business interest ranging from electronics to chemicals, comes a few days after competitors Ford and Toyota announced a joint technology development program. Ford and Toyota said they will engineer a new rear-wheel-drive hybrid powertrain for light-duty trucks and SUVs, an effort to share costs.
Automakers which sell in the U.S. are under pressure to advance fuel efficient technologies after an agreement to significantly raise the corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards was announced last month. Most of the fuel efficiency gains will be done through improvements to internal combustion and diesel engines, but some analysts expect that automakers will need some degree of electrification to meet the U.S. standards.
In addition to the Chevy Volt and Opel Ampera, GM will develop a Cadillac coupe, the ELR, which will use the same extended-range electric powertrain. Those cars initially run on electric power and, on longer rides, the gas engine kicks in to act as generator to sustain the battery charge. GM also worked with LG to make a demonstration fleet of all-electric Chevy Cruze sedans.
In a briefing today, Micky Bly, GM's executive director of electrical systems, hybrids, electric vehicles and batteries, said that the two companies will collaborate on multiple vehicles and that GM will explore different forms of electrification, including hybrids, all-electric powertrains, and microhybrids. He declined to project when a first product from the collaboration will come to market.
GM will seek to work with LG in various areas, including components such as motors, air conditioners, and in-car telematics, and benefit from LG's rapid consumer electronics-speed research and development, he said.