General Motors is working on a 200-mile electric car - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

General Motors is working on a 200-mile electric car

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(03/07/13) - General Motors says it's developing an electric car with a range of 200 miles. The automaker says by 2017, it will have a half million hybrid and pure electric cars on the road.

GM CEO Dan Akerson told Bloomberg News he expects to see a breakthrough in battery technology that will aid in the development of electric cars.

He says GM is working on two all-electric models with extended range. Right now, the plug-in Chevy Spark can go about 75 miles on a charge. The Chevy Volt gets around 35 miles on a charge. The upcoming Cadillac ELR will have similar numbers.

At Kettering University, researchers are developing battery technology for automakers. An assistant professor of electrical engineering thinks GM is on the right course by spending a lot of research and development money on electric vehicles.

"They are probably one of the best candidates to do this kind of thing," said Hua Bai, Ph.D. electric engineering assistant professor.

Several other automakers are developing EVs and hybrids. Tesla has a model that can travel 250 miles on a charge. Volkswagen is showing off a hybrid that gets the equivalent of 261 miles per gallon.

Right now lithium-ion batteries are used to power EVs. But there's a problem. They can become very hot. That's an issue researchers are trying to overcome.

"In order to cool down lithium-ion you need an extra cooling system," Bai said.

Another issue is affordability. Teslas cost more than $100,000 each. GM is looking for a way to bring the cost down.

"That should be GM's and everybody's goal," Bai said.

Another piece to the puzzle will be finding a way to quickly recharge EVs. It can take hours to bring one up to a full charge. If several cars were recharging at one location, it could put a huge strain on the electric grid. So the research continues.

"We can build a better battery," Bai said.

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