There’s big news in the electric vehicle (EV) world. General Motors (GM), the automotive giant, revealed on Wednesday its latest strategic move: a hefty $60 million investment in Mitra Chem, a budding Silicon Valley startup.
What’s the deal with Mitra Chem? This two-year-old company from Mountain View, California, has a nifty trick up its sleeve.
They harness the power of artificial intelligence to fast-track the creation of materials for lithium-ion batteries. But that’s not all. They’re helping GM explore more affordable and sustainable battery options, like the advanced iron-based cathode materials, specifically lithium manganese iron phosphate (LMFP).
This material might just find its way into GM’s future Ultium batteries, slated for post-2025.
Why is this a game-changer? Currently, many EV batteries bank on a blend called nickel-cobalt-manganese (NCM). But alternatives like lithium iron phosphate (LFP) and LMFP offer a more wallet-friendly and green approach.
However, a small catch exists: they usually pack less energy. Although LFP batteries originated in the U.S., it’s now Chinese firms like BYD and CATL that lead the global market.
“Is a strategic investment that will further help reinforce GM’s efforts in EV batteries (and) accelerate our work on affordable battery chemistries like LMFP,” proclaimed Gil Golan, GM’s tech-savvy vice president.
Golan also credited the U.S. Inflation Reduction Act as a key driver, emphasizing its role in promoting a U.S-centric supply chain for LFP batteries.
Fun fact: GM isn’t a newcomer to the LFP scene. They’ve already got these batteries powering their EVs in China.
Their current Ultium batteries, on the other hand, lean on a mix that offers longer driving ranges but comes with a heftier price tag. Collaboration is key, as GM’s battery ventures span across multiple plants, partnering with big names like LG Chem and Samsung SDI.
One more thing worth noting: the components in LFP and LMFP are not only more abundant but are also less prone to price fluctuations, giving them an edge, as battery experts highlight.
At the core of Mitra Chem are three trailblazers: Vivas Kumar, the CEO; Will Chueh, the scientific brains; and Chirranjeevi Gopal, the product guru. With GM’s backing, there’s no doubt this partnership aims to make the future of EVs brighter and more accessible.
Image courtesy of Mitra Chem.