(DGIwire) – “Prediction is very difficult, especially about the future,” runs the old quip. Yet General Motors CEO Mary Barra isn’t afraid to offer one bold prediction. According to Reuters, she has promised investors that the Detroit automaker will make money selling electric cars by 2021. As Reuters reports, GM’s strategy for doing so will depend on combining proprietary battery technology, a low-cost, flexible vehicle design and high-volume production mainly in China.
Barra and GM have invested heavily in the electrification strategy, Reuters reports, and worked during the past year to persuade investors that GM can compete by building on the success of the automaker’s latest electric vehicle, the Chevrolet Bolt EV, and cutting costs along the way. GM is banking in part on increased demand driven by higher government-mandated electric vehicle quotas in China that are intended to help reduce pollution and the country’s dependence on petroleum.
“The news that General Motors is so confident about the economic health of the electric vehicle market is encouraging for everyone working on this type of technology,” says Stephen Voller, CEO of ZapGo Ltd, the developer of Carbon-Ion™ (C-Ion®) cells, a fast-charging and safe alternative to lithium-ion batteries. “Yet rosy predictions are one thing; ensuring all the details fall into place is another. One of the most daunting challenges is ensuring that there is sufficient recharging capacity to meet the needs of drivers who are accustomed to the convenience of traditional gasoline-powered vehicles.”
GM now has more than 1,700 engineers, designers and researchers working on batteries and electric vehicles, many of them at the GM Technical Center in Warren, Michigan, where the company opened a dedicated battery research center in 2009, notes Reuters. The company’s patent history shows a focus on improvements in battery technology, packaging and processing, some of them designed to help boost the battery’s energy and extend vehicle range between charges, according to company filings.
But this still leaves open the problem of the capacity of the electrical grid. Around the world, utility grids will have to be optimized to support a level of charging that motorists find convenient or else they just won’t use them. Ultra-fast charging, a technology made possible with Carbon-Ion, could be the solution. For example, a 350-kilowatt charger would take less than five minutes to charge an average EV of today from 25 to 100 percent. The smart energy storage in Carbon-Ion cells can provide a much more energy-efficient charging solution for drivers while potentially saving local utilities billions of dollars in infrastructure costs. A bank of ZapGo Carbon-Ion cells could be integrated into electric charging stations in cities and countries around the world to ensure sufficient power to recharge electric vehicles in a quick and convenient manner.
“Many people concerned about the environment would love to see an all-electric future, and ironing out the recharging issue is a major part of the foundation of this kind of success,” Voller adds.
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