More details about the Cadillac CT6 PHEV come out at battery plant tour
It's a big week for batteries. On Friday, Tesla will hold a big event at its Gigafactory in Reno, Nevada. But even in Michigan, there are things happening on the electrified automotive front. This was proven when General Motors invited journalists to its Brownstown Battery Assembly Plant today, highlighting the six different battery packs it makes for nine vehicles around the world (plus a 10th, coming to Asia, that has not yet been announced). During our tour, we learned a few interesting tidbits:
- The Cadillac CT6 plug-in hybrid launches in China this fall before coming to the U.S. next year. GM builds the battery packs in Michigan and ships them to China for final assembly in the PHEV. For now, this is all fine for GM to qualify for China's incentives for building green cars in the country. But, as Bill Wallace, GM's director of global battery systems, told AutoblogGreen, this could change thanks to the country's "Made in China 2025" plan. The situation is "evolving," he said, and it's a safe assumption that GM will need to build packs in China some day. For the CT6 PHEVs that will be sold in the US, the batteries will make a round trip, since GM will only build the plug-in version in China.
- As for the range of the CT6 PHEV, that hasn't been announced, but since China offers incentives for vehicles that get at least 50 kilometres (31 miles), that's a likely target (the US range (UPDATE: GM did announce an expected range for the CT6 PHEV in the US at the LA Auto Show last fall, saying it would "travel approximately 30 miles - 40 km - on a full electric charge"). The battery pack in the CT6 is also a clunky box-type thing, totally unlike the near-elegant T-shape used in the Volt. This despite the fact that the guts of the two packs are similar. Both have 192 lithium-ion cells and weigh almost the same, but GM tuned the CT6 pack for acceleration instead of range, the way it did with the Volt's pack. Still, the main reason the packs are different is because the CT6 is a rear-wheel drive vehicle, and the tunnel that the Volt's pack uses is occupied by the driveshaft.
- Despite the highly touted second-gen Chevy Volt going on sale last year, GM still has the capacity to build battery packs for the old, first-gen model. This is because the company is legally required to be able to provide replacement packs for warrantied vehicles (for up to 10 years), and the second-gen packs don't fit into the first-gen vehicles. So far, GM says, a grand total of zero Volt packs have been replaced because of "general capacity degradation" but that doesn't mean GM can just get rid of the instructions and tools used to make yesterday's technology.
- There are two main battery types built in Brownstown - smaller air-cooled packs with Hitachi cells and larger liquid-cooled ones that use LG Chem cells. The nine vehicles that get batteries from Brownstown and which cells they use are:
Chevy Silverado eAssist (Hitachi)
GMC Sierra eAssist (Hitachi)
Chevy Malibu Hybrid (Hitachi)
Buick LaCrosse Hybrid (Hitachi)
Chevy Volt (1st and 2nd gen, both use LG Chem)
Cadillac ELR (LG Chem)
Cadillac CT6 PHEV (LG Chem)
Spark EV (LG Chem)