Hitachi Delivers 5,000 W/kg Prismatic Lithium-ion Cells for Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid


Hitachi Automotive Systems - Prismatic lithium-ion battery cell

Hitachi Automotive Systems – Prismatic lithium-ion battery cell

In the case of the Chevrolet Volt, Spark EV and ELR, General Motors selected LG Chem as the sole lithium-ion cell supplier.

But for the new 2016 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid, batteries will come from Hitachi Automotive Systems.

It’s interesting that those cells are capable of 5,000 W/kg power output, at the same time still achieving a not so bad 80 Wh/kg energy density.

“Hitachi Automotive Systems, Ltd. today announced that the company will be supplying 5,000W/kg high output power density prismatic lithium-ion battery cells for the new model Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid to be sold by General Motors (GM) in 2016.

These prismatic lithium-ion battery cells being delivered for the 2016 new model Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid employ heat resistant separators to ensure the ionic conductivity between the positive and negative electrodes, achieving not only a high output power density of 5,000W/kg, but also a high level of safety. In addition to this, the battery’s ability to maintain its high output power density in GM evaluations, even under extremely low temperatures such as the minus 30℃ cold region test, led to its adoption.

Hitachi’s lithium-ion battery operations for vehicles began in 1999, leading the charge worldwide and beginning mass production of safe, high-performance, long lasting products. To date, a total of over 5 million lithium-ion batteries have been introduced into the market for commercial hybrid buses and trucks, as well as hybrid passenger cars.”

2016 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid Lithium-Ion Battery System

2016 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid Lithium-Ion Battery System

The 2016 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid will get its drive unit from the 2016 Chevrolet Volt, as well as power electronics and a blended regenerative braking system.

Battery in non-plug-in hybrids is of course very small – just 1.5 kWh and this is why the 5 kW/kg power density is needed.

Hitachi Automotive Systems cells spec:

Item Specification
Size (mm) 120×80×12
Weight (kg) 0.24
Average Voltage (V) 3.7
Capacity (Ah) 5.2
Output Density (W/kg) 5,000
Energy Density (Wh/kg) 80
2016 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid Lithium-Ion Battery System, 1.8L Engine and Drive Unit

2016 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid Lithium-Ion Battery System, 1.8L Engine and Drive Unit

Category: Chevrolet

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50 responses to "Hitachi Delivers 5,000 W/kg Prismatic Lithium-ion Cells for Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid"
  1. ydnas7 says:

    about twice the power density of the e-assist cells, and a 20% increase in energy density.


    1. Sublime says:

      You could full power a P85 drivetrain (350kW) with about a 6kWh of pack. That’s kind of amazing.

      1. sven says:

        It seems like a light weight battery pack built with these cells would be good for a BEV used for drag racing.

        1. Sublime says:

          Definitely! 63C by my calculations.

  2. ydnas7 says:

    80 cells x .24kg/cell = 19.2kg cells so 96kW

  3. kdawg says:

    If the battery is full, where does the excess regenerative braking energy go? Do they have braking resistors to radiate the heat?

    1. John Hansen says:

      Maybe (this is a guess) it stops using regenerative braking and uses conventional brakes when the battery is full.

    2. Sublime says:

      GM only allows you to charge to about 80% capacity, so there is always spare capacity for regen braking.

      1. kdawg says:

        With only a 1.5kWh battery, that extra 20% isn’t much. At some point, no matter the size of the battery, it cannot be charged anymore and that energy has to go somewhere.

        1. Sublime says:

          You can’t brake without accelerating first, some degree of the pack will get used for acceleration. It’s a hybrid, so the normal use for it is at a very low SOC.

          1. kdawg says:

            But if you start with a full charge at the top of a hill…..

            1. Brian says:

              Even starting with an empty battery at the stop of a hill. There are plenty of hills in the world that are tall enough to fully charge this 1.5kWh battery and then some.

            2. Stephen says:

              As with other hybrids the regen will turn off before you get to bottom of hill

            3. Andrew says:

              Ive got a Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV and it just stops regen charging when battery is full and you need to use regular braking instead. I woul say this is true for the most newer plugin hybrids that dont have their ICE directly attached to the drive train at all times.

            4. Robert says:

              All cars will come equipped with a rear/roof mounted 1950s style mad scientist’s ‘Jacob’s ladder’ electrical contraption which will have big time arcing climbing up the wires to dissipate any excess charge.
              Imagine following that down the road in the dark 🙂

        2. krona2k says:

          The energy gets released as heat the same as in a regular car. That’s why plugins and even regular hybrids have to be able to blend real and regenerative braking in any ratio. I gather this is rather difficult.

        3. ModernMarvelFan says:

          It will just use engine braking instead..

          That is what Prius do.

      2. Brian says:

        The tiny battery in my Insight (0.5kWh) easily gets filled up descending even modest hills. This battery may be 3x larger, but it too will be filled if descending Mt Washington, for example. In the case of the Insight, a full battery results in a sudden loss of regen. To an inexperienced driver, this feels like sudden acceleration. This is a real problem.

        If you are applying the brakes, I’m sure they will use friction brakes when regen is used. If you are using regen as “engine braking”, I too am curious what the Malibu will do.

        1. kdawg says:

          I was hoping someone w/a hybrid would chime in. I was thinking a Prius, but an Insight would face the same issue. Switching to friction would be a strange feeling. Maybe braking resistors would be a better option. The heat could be used to heat the cabin as well. That’s a lot of power though. They would be pretty big resistors. And what if it’s 100 degrees outside?

          1. Dave K. says:

            Guy with a Prius and a Leaf, both switch to friction brakes when the battery is full. It’s almost totally transparent to the driver, you really have to be paying attention to even notice.

            1. Brian says:

              Just to be clear, you are talking about when you are pressing the brake, right? Or will your Prius apply friction brakes with your foot off of both pedals? There is a big difference.

              FWIW the Leaf will NOT use friction brakes if the battery is full and you aren’t using the brake pedal. Regen will simply stop and the car will coast, just like the Insight.

              1. I think there is some misinformation being spread here about what the prius does when it’s traction battery is full and there is still more down hill ahead.

                Here’s what I think happens (at least in my Gen 2 2004 version). I am pretty confident I’m right.

                When the 2 kwh NiMH battery gets around 80% full one of the electric motors spins the ICE up (without lighting any fuel) to “burn off” the regen electricity that is still coming into the battery. the other electric motor is still regenerating/making electricity and trying to slowing the car down. The ICE (or engine) doesnt itself do any braking ever.

                And to my knowledge the friction brakes are not engaged at this point when you are just coasting. They may or may not engage if you brake slightly but I doubt it. I you brake hard they would be of course engage as in any hard braking situation with a prius.

            2. Stephen Hodges says:

              I don’t find the transition smooth (2011 Leaf), and the jumping out of regen to friction if you drive over a bump and your foot jerks the brake pedal can be a little alarming. Sometimes you have to “persuade” it to regen downhill by pressing multiple times on the brake pedal. I hope it has improved for later models.

          2. lewl says:

            The power train is the exact same as the volt, so it would do whatever the volt does when it’s battery is full.
            It also has seamless transition to friction, except in the instant of sudden loss of regen (I.e. wheel slip detected/ABS control)
            I would hope if battery is full they just transition to friction instead of suddenly cut it off.

            I believe I also heard once that if you use L while battery is full (foot not on brake, so can’t apply friction brake) that it runs one motor ‘against the grain’ or similar to generate heat instead of electricity
            Not exactly sure on the details of that one.

    3. CdnE90 says:

      If it’s anything like my Fusion Energi, the ICE will kick on when the battery is full to dissipate the energy.

  4. Mark B. Spiegel says:

    This is a full-sized family car that will get 48mpg in city driving and probably cost around $25,000. I know there are lots of BEV “purists” here but that’s pretty amazing considering the non-issue of “range.”

    1. Aaron says:

      I agree. Even as a BEV purist, I think GM did a great job. 48 MPG is within spitting range of the current generation Prius, with a much larger car.

      1. kdawg says:

        And once you get above 40mpg.. any increases are pretty much insignificant when you look at the actual gas saved.

        1. przemo_li says:

          On 10 000 miles per year:
          20MPG -> 500
          40MPG -> 250
          60MPG -> 170

          If 70 galons of oil is dirty cheap ;P

        2. Nix says:

          I agree, Once you get past 50-60 MPG, the only real way to substantially cut the total amount of gas burned each year is to stop burning gas completely.

    2. sven says:

      I think the Malibu Hybrid will cannibalize Volt sales, especially in areas with high electricity prices that will make it cheaper to drive the Malibu Hybrid than the Volt.

    3. Robb Stark says:

      I will eat my shorts if the 2016 Malibu Hybrid has an MSRP of $25,400 or less.

      The less capable Ford Fusion Hybrid has a starting MSRP of $25,990.

  5. Ambulator says:

    I’m guessing these are lithium titanate cells. A smaller version should work well as a starter battery.

    1. sven says:

      Nope. It’s a Lithium Nickel Manganese Cobalt Oxide (NMC) battery.

  6. Alaa says:

    There are ultra capacitors that have much higher power density and higher energy density, longer cycle life and are much cheaper. On top of all that they charge in seconds.

    1. Benjamin says:

      If that were truly available for commercial purchase then ultra caps would be dominating hybrid battery installs.

      Actual ultra caps available for purchase are more expensive and less energy dense, IINM.

    2. ModernMarvelFan says:

      NOT true,

      Ultra caps are much larger in volume and have far less “energy density” almost 1/3 of those cells…

      They might be comparable in terms of density in weight, but NOT in size.

  7. Lou Patrick says:

    I agree Mark, the MPG figures are really impressive. I have driven a few Malibus as rental cars and enjoyed them. 48 MPG is actually hard to believe, it’s fun to watch car makers adjust to the supposedly impossible demands imposed on them by CAFE.

    1. pjwood1 says:

      GM hasn’t lied about its MPGs, as others have. The newer Accord PHEV can do similar to their claims. IOW, we’ll probably be verifying ~48mpg, in not too long.

      1. Londo Bell says:

        Actually, no manufacturer has ever lied. It’s the test systems and assumptions used that produced inaccurate results.

        Seriously though, you CAN’T say GM has NOT lied, or more speaking in a more correct manner, GM has NOT produced inaccurate result. Consumers – a lot of them – have been very stringent on fuel economy only for the past decade, or even less than that. It has always been “whatever the label states” prior with not many people cared.

        1. Dave K. says:

          I’ve gotten 60mpg in my Prius, though you have to pay attention constantly and be willing to play the pulse & glide game. Have a friend who gets low 40s, it’s the driver not the car.

  8. pjwood1 says:

    Basically a killer “C-rate”, right? I wonder if it can charge more quickly, too? Without numbers, Porsche is the only OEM that seems to hold on to better EV mode accelerations, as kwh levels go down. This part isn’t about range, but power from a little battery.

    The spec makes more likely the footprint sports EREV/PHEV could keep.

  9. So how much does “The 2016 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid battery system” pictured in the photo above with a capacity of 1.5 kWh weigh?

    An important note:
    DC power in a battery has nothing to do with power available to a motor to drive a vehicle … the limiting factor is the power capability of the DC-to-AC inverter. This makes the power to weight ratio of the inverter more significant than that of the battery.

    The important metric for a battery storage system is “energy capacity” in kWh, or “energy density” measured in kWh/kg.

    The 5kW/kg value from is a useless measurement in a vehicle context, as is like discussing horsepower per pound of gasoline. It means nothing unless we know the type of engine it will be used, and how fast the fuel will be consumed. Same logic applies with battery power … not knowing consumption rate leaves us with an known unknown value. (ie: incomplete data)

    eg: consuming the 1.5 kWh pack in 18 minutes (0.3 of an hour) would equate to 5 kWh/h (5 kW of power). If energy efficiency is 3.5 miles/kWh … 1.5 kWh would provide enough energy to go 5.25 hours (that’s 5.25 miles in 18 minutes) at a speed under 20 mph.

    An alternative test run is to stomp on the accelerator dropping efficiency to 0.7 miles/kWh (1/5 of 3.5 miles/kWh) … giving a 5x speed boost to ~100 mph (unfortunately, the 1.5 kWh pack would be dead at 0.7 miles).

    1. Brian says:

      None of your math works out. Maybe you typed this up too fast?

    2. ModernMarvelFan says:

      Are you confused between PHEV and conventional hybrid?

      None of your point really makes sense as it is really aimed being a PHEV, NOT a hybrid as in the case of Malibu Hybrid.

    3. ELROY says:

      Wrong, how much is drawn from a specific capacity battery is critical, if you care about not degrading the battery within days. The size/weight of the invertor is much less a concern in the context of the total vehicle weight and packaging constraints.

  10. Speculawyer says:

    It is very nice to see GM FINALLY get a good conventional hybrid car. The eAssist stuff was crap. The Volt leapfrog was nice but neglecting conventional hybrids was a mistake.

  11. techguy says:

    BMW i3 battery is far superior.