GM Ventures Makes Strategic Investment in Envia Systems

$7 million investment gives carmaker access to advanced lithium-ion cathode technology.

Published: 27-Jan-2011

General Motors Ventures LLC invested $7 million in Newark, Calif.-based Envia Systems to provide GM's battery engineering team with access to advanced lithium-ion cathode technology that delivers higher cell energy density and lower cost. In a separate agreement, GM has secured the right to use Envia's advanced cathode material for future GM electrically driven vehicles.

"Skeptics have suggested it would probably be many years before lithium-ion batteries with significantly lower cost and higher capability are available, potentially limiting sales of electric vehicles for the foreseeable future," said Jon Lauckner, president of GM Ventures. "In fact, our announcement today demonstrates that major improvements are already on the horizon."

Other participating investors in Envia are Asahi Kasei and Asahi Glass; as well as current investors Bay Partners, Redpoint and Panagea Ventures. The funding of the investor group totaled $17 million.

"With our high-capacity manganese rich cathode material, Envia is addressing two key issues in the next-generation battery cells – higher capability and lower cost," said Atul Kapadia, founding investor, chairman and CEO of Envia Systems. "The investments announced today from GM and the two new strategic investors, demonstrate the excitement around our technology, as well as the importance of the challenge.

"We believe our battery materials have taken the technology lead that will help lower price points and unlock the market potential for our customers," Kapadia said. "With our technology and products, we believe that Envia is best-positioned to win a significant portion of this very large battery materials market."

Envia's advanced cathode technology uses inexpensive materials that store more energy per unit of mass than current cathode materials. Since the cathode is a key driver for the overall battery cost, the more energy the cathode delivers, the lower the battery cost because fewer cells are needed.

"Our test results on small-format cells show that Envia's high-capacity composite cathode material can increase the energy density of lithium-ion cells by up to one-third, at an equivalent level of reliability, safety and durability," said Micky Bly, GM executive director for Electrical and Battery Systems. "We estimate this improvement in cell energy density and less expensive material will drive a substantial reduction in cell cost, leading to lower cost battery packs like the one in the Chevy Volt." Envia's cathode technology also will offer benefits for other devices and applications where low-cost, high-energy density storage solutions are needed."

Said U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu: "Today we are once again seeing the benefits for the American people that come with federal investments in science and innovation. With this new agreement, a battery technology, originally developed at the Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory, is making its way into the market. By supporting American innovation, commercialization and manufacturing, this partnership is helping to boost U.S. competitiveness and create the jobs of the future."

About General Motors – General Motors Company (NYSE: GM, TSX: GMM), one of the world's largest automakers, traces its roots back to 1908. With its global headquarters in Detroit, GM employs 209,000 people in every major region of the world and does business in more than 120 countries. GM and its strategic partners produce cars and trucks in 31 countries, and sell and service these vehicles through the following brands: Baojun, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, GM Daewoo, Holden, Isuzu, Jiefang, Opel, Vauxhall, and Wuling. GM's largest national market is China, followed by the United States, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, Italy, Russia, Mexico, and Uzbekistan. GM's OnStar subsidiary is the industry leader in vehicle safety, security and information services. General Motors acquired operations from General Motors Corporation on July 10, 2009, and references to prior periods in this and other press materials refer to operations of the old General Motors Corporation. More information on the new General Motors can be found at www.gm.com

About Envia Systems: Envia Systems is a technology leader in high performance, low cost Lithium Ion energy storage solutions. Based in Newark, California, Envia's patented cathode technology enables its batteries to deliver previously unattainable levels of energy capacity, safety and life. These systems will be used by manufacturers developing Electric Vehicles and Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles. For more information, please visit www.enviasystems.com.

Envia Systems Delivers High Energy Density Battery Materials Available for Commercial Testing

Envia Systems, the technology leader in high performance, low cost Lithium Ion (Li-Ion) energy storage solutions, announced today that its High Capacity Manganese Rich (HCMR) cathode material for advanced batteries is available in limited quantities for pilot vehicle programs. Envia's HCMR technology exceeds the performance of today's market-available battery solutions designed for electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs).

Envia's HCMR technology is the first of its proprietary cathode and anode materials for Li-Ion batteries to be readied for commercial testing. Envia's HCMR cathode material enables batteries that are distinct in five primary ways: using low cost safe materials, delivering unmatched energy density, providing excellent cycle life and offering an inherent ability to customize battery size and output in order to meet the demands of a variety of applications, particularly EVs and PHEVs.

Envia's HCMR cathode has twice the capacity over currently available cathode materials. This capacity doubling enables battery-makers to make much smaller battery packs that can significantly reduce the costs of EVs and PHEVs.

"Offering Envia's HCMR technology for pilot vehicle programs is a major milestone in the commercialization of higher-performance lithium ion cells," said Dr. Sujeet Kumar, founder and chief technology officer of Envia Systems. "HCMR is the first next-generation solution to leverage Argonne National Laboratory's composite cathode material, licensed by Envia."

"The relationship between Argonne and Envia dates back to 2008, when we collaborated to make cathode material in small quantities. This collaboration is a demonstration of the extraordinary impact and value of Department of Energy's investment in basic research, and shows the very real contribution the national laboratories make to our country's prosperity," said Dr. Jeff Chamberlain, head of Argonne's Energy Storage Initiative.

"The future of the automotive industry is heavily invested in the affordability of EVs and PHEVs," said Michael Sinkula, co-founder of Envia Systems. "Energy storage is the key element to reducing costs. Throughout the past three years, Envia has assembled a unique, interdisciplinary team whose expertise in material sciences and electrochemistry has been crucial in attacking the challenge of high-density, low-cost energy storage."

Concurrently, GM announced that they led a $17 million equity investment round in Envia Systems and secured rights to use Envia's HCMR cathode material.

"Delivering the levels of increased capacity cathode material that the automotive industry needs at low cost is massively complex," Atul Kapadia, founding investor, chairman & CEO of Envia Systems. "There simply is no shortcut to doubling the capacity at this cost. Our scientists have worked through 100s of process parameters and compositions to arrive at the product that is available for testing today. By reducing costs and relieving mileage anxiety, HCMR will hasten the pace of the electric vehicle revolution and advance the timetable for mass commercialization of EVs and PHEVs.

Envia recently secured development grants from USABC totaling $3.65 million, adding to grants of $4 million from the U.S. Department of Energy's ARPA-E program and $1 million from the California Energy Commission secured in 2009. Envia has raised equity financing from GM Ventures, Asahi Kasei, Asahi Glass, Bay Partners, Redpoint Ventures and Pangaea Ventures.

About Envia Systems

Envia Systems is a technology leader in high performance, low cost Lithium Ion energy storage solutions.

Based in Newark, California, Envia's patented cathode technology enables its batteries to deliver previously unattainable levels of energy capacity, safety and life. These systems will be used by manufacturers developing Electric Vehicles and Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles. For more information, please visit www.enviasystems.com.

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