General Motors says it will offer an eight-year or 100,000-mile warranty on the lithium-ion battery pack that will power the Chevy Volt.
The long warranty is a surprise for many who wondered about lithium-ion battery technology, largely because of concerns over heat and lack of development time. In a 2008 article, one GM exec told us that “the big risks we have to overcome if we expect to see widespread implementation are quality, reliability, and durability. We’d like to get at least three to four years (of testing) on these batteries.”
Ideally, automotive engineers like to be able to test products over their real life, but that wasn’t possible with the Volt. A tight time schedule – the vehicle was announced in early 2007 and will roll out late this year – prevented GM from testing the batteries for a full, eight-year life.
The inherent high-cost of lithium-ion was also a concern. “The auto industry is very concerned about the cost numbers because, ultimately, they not only have to buy the battery, they have to warranty it,” one expert told us in 2008. “If the warranty is 120,000 miles or ten years, they don’t want to have to start swapping out batteries at that point. That’s one of the reasons they’re so nervous about the cost numbers.”