General Motors Co. is dropping a lithium-ion battery from its popular midsize sedan in favor of a less-costly lead-acid battery, aimed at saving cost.
Find out more about what will fuel the upcoming Chevrolet Malibu.
General Motors is dropping a lithium-ion battery from a popular midsize sedan in favor of a less-costly lead-acid battery, a move that highlights the tension between high technology and high cost in the auto market.
The 2014 Chevrolet Malibu uses a “start-stop” system with a lead-acid battery to improve fuel economy and achieve the same fuel economy as the older model, which used a lithium-ion battery-based eAssist technology to boost mileage. The new technology is standard on all 2014 models; EAssist was a $1,500 option on 2013 Malibus.
The Malibu’s new stop-start system uses a lead-acid battery in the trunk—no bigger than a half-gallon box of ice cream—and a larger lead-acid battery under the hood to turn off the 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine when the vehicle is stopped or idling. The engine restarts when a driver pulls their foot off the brake.
GM’s move highlights the challenges auto makers and manufacturers of lithium-ion batteries are facing as they try to push electric vehicle technology into mainstream, high-volume cars. GM and its rivals originally viewed lithium-ion batteries as the foundation of hybrid power systems that could substantially improve the mileage of gasoline-fueled cars.
On Wednesday, Chevrolet marketing Vice President Chris Perry said, “We found we could get the same results from a less expensive technology and at the same time save the customer money.” He added the fuel-saver “won’t work in all cases, but we are looking at our other vehicles to see where we can use start-stop.”
GM’s move is a blow to the lithium-ion battery industry, which is already is suffering because of lack of demand for electric vehicles. Toyota Motor Corp. on Wednesday said it is cutting the starting price of its 2014 Prius Plug-in hybrid to $29,990, more than $2,000 less than the 2013 model. Through the end of September, Toyota had sold just 7,974 Prius plug-ins, down 2.6% from the same period a year ago.