GM taps former Tesla battery expert to help it deliver low-cost EVs

As GM looks to deliver on its promise of EVs for everyone, the automaker is recruiting talent from the best. GM announced Thursday that it has hired Kurt Kelty, former Tesla executive and recognized battery expert, as it aims to launch low-cost EVs.

GM hires ex-Tesla battery expert to launch low-cost EVs

Kelty will serve as vice president of Batteries under President Mark Reuss in the newly created role.

In the role, he will be in charge of GM’s battery cell strategy and a new end-to-end approach. Kelty’s responsibilities will include researching, developing, and investing in new technology and the use of raw materials.

GM said Kelty’s team will be responsible for a key piece of its electrification strategy. He will utilize GM’s battery development resources to deliver “profitable, lower-cost, higher-performing electric vehicles” at scale.

With the new hire, GM will accelerate and expand efforts to develop and manufacture next-gen battery cells to position them as an EV leader in the future.

Kelty said, with over 30 years of battery tech experience, “Joining GM creates an even bigger opportunity to help the industry make the switch and have a lasting impact on our planet.”

2024 Chevy Blazer EV RS (Source: GM)

Kelty most recently served as vice president at Sila, a battery materials startup developing lighter, higher energy density lithium-ion batteries to promote widespread EV adoption.

Before that, he helped lead Tesla’s battery development team for 11 years. Kelty was responsible for commercial negotiations with cell suppliers and early-stage battery cell developers.

2024 Chevrolet Equinox EV 1LT (Source: Chevrolet)

GM said he was a “key driver” in Tesla’s first Gigafactory. Kelty has worked with lithium-ion batteries since 1993, working for Panasonic to advance rechargeable battery tech for portable devices (the same year the Apple Newton MessagePad went on sale).

The automaker announced it would spend $35 billion on EVs and autonomous tech by 2025. GM said the hire will help it accelerate toward its vision of an all-electric future.

Electrek’s Take

GM’s new hiring comes after the automaker backtracked on its “all-in on EVs” strategy to focus on plug-in hybrids.

Over the past few months, GM has pushed back the production of key EVs like the all-electric Equinox, Silverado RST, and GMC Sierra Denali.

GM is phasing out its most popular Chevy Bolt EV as it focuses on scaling the output of its Ultium-based models. GM CEO, Mary Barra said the next-gen Bolt EV will offer an even better driving, charging, and ownership experience.”

The new Bolt will be the first Ultium model in North America to use LFP batteries to help drive costs down. GM hopes its new hire can help it deliver low-cost, profitable EVs at scale.

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