General Motors recently announced that they have developed new battery technology that will significantly increase the range of electric vehicles. Their new battery can provide up to 400 miles of range on a single charge and is cheaper to produce than batteries currently in use.

While improvements in battery technology have progressively increased the range of electric vehicles in recent years, the new GM battery will make the range of electric vehicles competitive with many gas-powered vehicles. Up till now the issue of range has been a major limiting factor for widespread consumer adoption of electric vehicles. Last year less than 250,000 electric vehicles were sold in the US according to Cox Automotive out of a total of more than 17 million cars and light trucks sold nationwide.

The new battery cells are in the form of soft, flat pouches which use a minimum of cobalt. Cobalt has been the most expensive ingredient in electric vehicle batteries, which is why such vehicles cost more than comparable gas-powered vehicles. Unlike the current generation of batteries used in electric vehicles, the GM batteries can be lined horizontally or vertically with the pouches laying on their sides. This allows for more flexibility in car design because the battery pack, which is made up of numerous individual cells, can take on a greater variety of shapes.

The battery announcement was part of a broader presentation on GMs aggressive plans for expanding electric vehicle production. They intend to invest more than $3 billion annually in electric vehicle research and development between 2020 and 2025. They said it is relatively easy to adapt existing facilities to manufacture electric cars noting that electric cars are simpler, with fewer moving parts than traditional automobiles. As a result, they believe that the company’s new generation of electric vehicles will be profitable from the outset and truly cost competitive with traditional gas powered vehicles.
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