GM taps LG for EV alliance

General Motors and South Korean consumer electronics giant LG are planning to jointly develop electric vehicles (EVs), expanding a relationship built on LG’s work as the battery cell supplier for the Chevrolet Volt and Opel Ampera extended-range EVs

General Motors and South Korean consumer electronics giant LG are planning to jointly develop electric vehicles (EVs), expanding a relationship built on LG’s work as the battery cell supplier for the Chevrolet Volt and Opel Ampera extended-range EVs.

GM said the new partnership will help broaden the number and types of EVs it makes and sells by using LG’s expertise in batteries and other systems. For LG, the arrangement represents a widening of its portfolio as an automotive solution provider, the company said in a statement.

Teams of LG and GM engineers will work on key components, as well as vehicle structures and architectures. Vehicles resulting from the partnership will be sold in many countries.

“Many solutions for tomorrow’s transportation needs may be available more quickly by building on our partnership strategy,” noted GM vice chairman Steve Girsky during a press conference last week. ”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.”

Consulting firm IHS Global Insight noted that LG is already a partner with GM on a number of other areas, notably its battery subsidiary, LG Chem, serving the selected vendor of choice to supply lithium-ion battery cells to GM for use in the Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric car. It has worked with GM on the electronics behind the OnStar system as well for years, IHS noted.

The GM-LG relationship that began with LG delivering the cells for the battery pack of the Chevrolet Volt and Opel Ampera expanded last year with work on a demonstration fleet of Chevrolet Cruze EVs, now in market-testing to learn more about capabilities and requirements.

And while GM is confident that there is growing demand for EVs, the mix of what types (PHEV, etc.) is still unknown, noted IHS, so spreading around the development risk with additional partners allows GM to pursue several avenues at less cost than it otherwise would have had to absorb.

IHS added that finding qualified EV and hybrid engineers has become increasingly difficult in the last several years, especially as the demand for such electrification systems has skyrocketed among every automaker on the planet. GM, Ford and Chrysler alike have all lamented publicly the fact that it is hard to find good help these days – making an engineering arrangement with a foreign electronics company a more plausible scenario, IHS said.

Accelerating the pace of roadworthy technology is also more important than ever in light of more stringent emissions and fuel consumption regulations being put in place around the world, said GM, including the recent agreement calling for a U.S. Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) of 54.5 mpg by the end of the 2025 model year.

EVs, which have no tailpipe emissions and require no gasoline, are expected to play a major role in reaching the CAFE goal, the automaker added.

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