GM to Expand Michigan Battery Lab Ahead of Electric Car Push

The automaker wants to launch 20 new electric cars by 2023.

General Motors will expand the battery research lab at its Global Technical Center in Warren, Michigan, as part of a larger plan to build more electric cars.

In a LinkedIn post, GM CEO Mary Barra said “additional major enhancements” will start this fall, including “new test chambers and advanced equipment to accelerate our next-generation battery architecture.” Automotive News reported that GM will spend $28 million on the upgrades. The lab tests battery cells and battery packs for all of GM’s electrified powertrains.

In her post, Barra said GM has already completed a major expansion of the battery lab, growing the facility to 100,000 square feet and allowing the automaker to conduct virtually all battery testing under one roof. The lab opened in 2009, and a $20 million investment expanded it to 85,000 square feet in 2013, according to Automotive News. Expansion to 100,000 square feet took place in 2017 and cost $6 million, the trade journal reported.

The automaker is also involved in a Department of Energy-funded research project by Delta Electronics to develop faster-charging batteries. Delta promises 180 miles of range from a 10-minute charge, and hopes to have a prototype ready by 2020. GM will supply a vehicle for testing.

GM is slowly but surely ramping up production of electric cars. The automaker announced in July that it will increase production of the Chevrolet Bolt EV by 20 percent. Barra said GM will begin sourcing battery packs this fall from a new LG Electronics facility in Hazel Park, Michigan, for the Bolt EV, which is built at the nearby Orion Assembly plant.

GM plans to launch 20 new electric cars globally by 2023. It has already launched the Buick Velite 6 and Baojun E200 for the Chinese market. China is the world’s largest electric-car market, thanks to generous government incentives.