General Motors to build prototype battery plant with lithium metal start-up SolidEnergy Systems

by John Shepherd
Weight and space savings from smaller battery packs 'could help with vehicle light-weighting or create more room for additional technology'. Photo: Steve Fecht for GM
General Motors is partnering with lithium metal start-up, SolidEnergy Systems (SES), to build a manufacturing line for "high-performance” prototype electric vehicle batteries in the US.

The plant, to be built in Massachusetts by 2023, is part of the next stage of development for GM’s Ultium battery chemistry, company president Mark Reuss said.

Reuss said GM’s lithium metal battery with a protected anode would "feature a combination of affordability, high performance and energy density”.

The initial prototype batteries have already completed 150,000 simulated test miles at research and development labs at GM’s Global Technical Center in Michigan.

"Affordability and range are two major barriers to mass EV adoption,” Reuss said. "With this next-generation Ultium chemistry, we believe we’re on the cusp of a once-in-a-generation improvement in energy density and cost.”

The prototype plant is the latest collaboration with SES, in which GM’s corporate venture capital arm invested an undisclosed sum in 2015.

Chinese-born Qichao Hu is the CEO and founder of SES, based in Woburn, Massachusetts. The company has also opened a lithium metal battery facility in Shanghai.

In 2019, GM announced the formation of Ultium Cells – a joint venture with South Korea’s LG Energy Solution to mass-produce battery cells for future battery-electric vehicles.

Construction of Ultium Cells’ first EV battery manufacturing plant is under way in Ohio and, as World Battery News reported last week, the joint venture partners are discussing plans to build a second plant in the US.

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