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General Motors aims to build a new 300,000-square-foot battery research center in Michigan. The idea is to concentrate as many resources as possible to create batteries for electric vehicles with a higher lifespan, quicker recharge feature and more sustainable for the environment. GM believes that this new center will help them to create electric vehicles that can overcome 600 miles on a single charge. That is almost twice the range of most EVs on the road today.

The Verge also notices in the original material that the new research facility will be named the Wallace Battery Innovation Center after Bill Wallace, a battery engineer at GM who died in 2018. The Innovation Center will be located in Warren, Michigan, near the campus of the automaker’s 710-acre Technical Center in Southeast Michigan. General Motors doesn’t reveal how many engineers will work in the center’s labs, nor does it uncover the amount of money it spends to build the new facility. 

GM's new 300,000-square-foot battery research facility
GM’s new 300,000-square-foot battery research facility. Image credit: theverge.com

The innovation center will be “one of the only ones in North America that can use large format prototype cells, up to a meter wide or even wider than that, with uniform stacked electrodes,” said Ken Morris, vice president for electric and autonomous vehicles at GM.

The goal is to produce batteries with an energy density of “up to 1,200 watt-hours per liter,” Morris said — a staggering number that some experts have questioned. “And that means that you can easily have a 500- or a 600-mile vehicle on a single charge that’s possible, creating a new reality for our customers.”

That would be beyond the range advertised for its Ultium battery architecture, which the company has said would allow for driving ranges of “400 miles or more.” When they were first announced, GM said that it would design its Ultium batteries to be large-format, pouch-style cells, compared to cylindrical cells that are used by Tesla and others. This enables them to be stacked vertically or horizontally inside the battery pack, as the automaker sees fit.

“With these high-energy-density, low-cost vehicles, we really think we can have a better package that’s less mass, better for the vehicle, better for the customer, and it can be the reality as quickly as we can through the Wallace Innovation Center,” Morris added.

The first generation of Ultium batteries will occupy the position inside the Hummer EV pickup truck, which is supposed to get off the assembly line next year. The Wallace Center has a task to develop future versions that will be completely different from the current lithium-ion composition.

“The Wallace Center is going to be a colocation of development engineers, research engineers, and manufacturing engineers, where we’re going to accelerate this next generation,” Morris said. “Technology like lithium metal or pure silicon anodes, even solid-state batteries.”

It’s important to note that the innovation facility is not a battery manufacturing plant — GM is building two of them with partner LG Chem — but it will be the place where the company can experiment with various production methods.

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