GM invests $7 million in battery tech firm Envia Systems

General Motors believes Envia Systems' lithium-ion battery technology will help improve cell energy density and lower costs for electric cars.

General Motors Ventures, the automaker's investment arm, announced on Wednesday that it has invested $7 million in battery technology startup Envia Systems.

GM's interest in the Newark, Calif.-based startup is its advanced lithium-ion cathode technology, which GM believes its battery engineering team can use to achieve higher cell energy density -- up to one-third more, the company says -- and lower cost.

In a separate agreement, GM secured the right to use Envia’s advanced cathode material for future electric vehicles.

The big takeaway here is that major improvements are finally occurring on the lithium-ion battery front, perhaps the most major of hurdles to manufacturing an affordable electric car. (And better smartphones, satellites and smart grid storage, I should add.)

Because an electric powertrain effectively removes the power plant -- gasoline engine -- from the vehicle, the most important component becomes the battery -- that is, how that vehicle stores power once it's left home.

The announcement means we could start seeing better batteries in successor models to GM's Chevrolet Volt. At the scale GM operates, it will have a ripple effect across the burgeoning EV market.

Envia counts Asahi Kasei, Asahi Glass, Bay Partners, Redpoint and Panagea Ventures as investors. In total, the funding of the investor group came to $17 million.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com