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September 25, 2013

GM celebrates another battery lab expansion

By Brian Louwers
C & G Staff Writer

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General Motors Co. has reportedly nearly tripled the size of the Global Battery Systems Laboratory at the GM Tech Center in Warren. The 50,000-square-foot addition brings the total space of the “largest and most technologically advanced automotive battery lab in the U.S.” to 85,000 square feet.

WARREN — The battery lab at the General Motors Technical Center in Warren just keeps growing.

Last week, General Motors Co. officially announced the completion of a 50,000-square-foot addition to the state-of-the-art Global Battery Systems Laboratory, already labeled “the largest and most technologically advanced automotive battery lab in the U.S.”

According to a GM release, the expansion would allow engineers to increase the lab’s testing capacity at two levels. The expansion will also provide dedicated equipment for future vehicle battery system development, including charger research, development and testing; battery pack prototype development; and coordinated validation of GM’s global battery systems development through a centralized hub.

The Warren lab, previously called GM’s “nerve center” of global battery development, was instrumental in the development and testing of battery cells and packs for the company’s electric vehicles, including the Chevy Volt and Chevy Spark EV.

“In the past four years, the competitive landscape in the electrification space has grown exponentially,” GM Vice President of Global Product Programs Doug Parks said in a prepared release. “This has required us to raise our game and draw a new line in the sand. To maintain our leadership, this additional real estate is filled with new capability that will help us improve speed to market for our next generation of battery systems and help us improve the value equation to our customers around the world.”

In 2010, GM — Warren’s largest corporate taxpayer — moved to invest $8 million to double the lab’s size.

The following year, the company announced a $130-million investment to build a centralized IT data center in the Tech Center’s Cadillac Building. Later in 2011, the company said it would invest $325 million at its Mound Road transmission plant to bolster support for future electric vehicle component production.

Warren Mayor Jim Fouts attended the ceremony marking the completion of the lab expansion Sept. 16.

“I told them I liked it for a number of reasons, besides the fact that they’re a key taxpayer,” Fouts said. “As GM goes, so goes Warren. I also feel that this industry is so very important.

“I think part of what the problem is is that we can’t continue to depend on gasoline fuel of that nature. Basically, it’s an environmentally responsible position, and it puts General Motors in a position where they’re ready to compete,” Fouts said.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Brian Louwers at brianlouwers@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1089.