GM Unveils 8-Year Chevy Volt Battery Warranty

UPDATED General Motors pulled back the curtain today on the warranty for the most expensive piece of its upcoming Chevy Volt: the lithium-ion battery. GM said today it will guarantee the battery for eight years or 100,000 miles, a fair stretch longer than the standard five years or 100,000 miles for the automaker’s gas engines and transmissions.

GM said today that the warranty will cover all 161 components of the battery in the extended-range electric Volt, as well as the thermal management system, charging system and electric drive components.

Micky Bly, GM executive director of Global Electrical Systems, spoke to reporters today on a call about the hearts, brains and muscles of the Volt, saying the battery is “undoubtedly” the heart. After years of development, testing and validation of the battery — from water submersion to aggressive driving cycles to extreme temperature swings — Bly said GM is “backing up” its confidence in the pack with the industry’s “most aggressive, comprehensive battery warranty program for a mass market electric vehicle.”

Under California vehicle emissions regulations (also used by 16 other states), plug-in hybrid and extended-range electric vehicles like the Volt have to carry a minimum 10-year, 150,000-mile battery warranty in order to be designated as partial zero emission vehicles (PZEV) — a high standard that Jay Cole over on the Nissan-LEAF blog has likened this to “telling your kids to go practice playing catch out in the yard with a raw egg…at some point, that egg is going to get broken.”

However, under the final rulemaking issued by the EPA in May for new national vehicle emission standards, (starting with the 2012 model year), “emission-related components on advanced technology vehicles,” including batteries in hybrid electric vehicles, will be required to carry only an 8-year, 80,000-mile defect warranty.

Update: GM tells us that in order to meet its “aggressive program timing” for the Volt launch, it “chose to hit calibration and regulatory targets for nationwide availability beginning later this year.” Down the road, however, the automaker plans to expand the warranty. Starting in mid-2012, GM tells us it expects to meet the California standard for what are designated as “enhanced advanced technology partial zero emission vehicles,” or enhanced AT PZEV. According to GM, “At that time, the battery will receive a 10-year/150,000 mile warranty.”

What’s the big deal with qualifying as an enhanced AT PZEV? Cars in this category can be used to meet up to 70 percent of the production requirements for zero emission vehicles under California regulations between 2012 and 2014, and half of the requirements for 2015-2017.

Image courtesy of GM

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