GM has appointed Kurt Kelty, a battery expert and former Tesla executive, to its new role of vice-president of batteries, in a move that aims to help the carmaker become a leader in EV manufacturing.
In the newly created role, Kelty will be responsible for GM’s battery cell strategy and a new end-to-end approach in EVs, which includes the use of raw materials, developing and investing in new technology, research, commercialisation of cells and packs, and end-of-life recycling and reuse opportunities.
The OEM said the move will bring together the company’s battery development resources with industry expertise to “more quickly deliver profitable, lower cost, higher performing EVs to customers at scale”. The role builds on GM’s infrastructure, which is already enabling it to identify and prototype next generation technology and mass produce cells.
Kelty has a wealth of experience in the research, development and production of batteries. He began work in lithium-ion batteries in 1993 at Panasonic, where he was founder and director of the battery R&D lab. Most recently, he was VP of commercialisation at American battery manufacturer Sila Nanotechnologies, and prior to that was Tesla’s senior director of the Battery Technology division where he was a key driver in the creation of the company’s first gigafactory.
Commenting on the appointment of Kelty, Mark Reuss, president, GM said: “The foundation that GM has established coupled with Kurt’s exceptional battery expertise in leading battery chemistry development, establishing partnerships, building out supply chains and partnering closely with teams that have developed leading battery systems, will help us achieve our electrification goals and position GM as a leader in EV technology.”
Last year, GM scooped up EV gigacasting firm Tooling & Equipment International (TEI), a company that has a history of collaboration with Tesla. The acquisition, estimated at a value of just less than $100m, signalled GM’s intent to enhance its manufacturing capabilities in gigacasting and competitively position itself in the fast-evolving EV market.
“For more than 30 years, I’ve been focused on helping develop and commercialise battery technologies that will aid in the transition to electric transportation,” Kelty said. “Joining GM creates an even bigger opportunity to help the industry make the switch and have a lasting impact on our planet.”