DETROIT - General Motors is selling its stake in a battery-making joint venture to Texaco Inc. in hopes that an energy company can lower the costs of nickel-metal-hydride batteries. GM still plans to buy batteries for future electric and hybrid vehicles from GM-Ovonic LLC, a 6-year-old venture with Ovonic Battery Co.
GM says the venture won't be able to make advanced nickel-metal-hydride batteries affordable unless it can increase production. That means gaining nonautomotive customers, said GM spokesman Jeff Kuhlman. 'General Motors is not the company to take these batteries to another market outside of automotive,' he said.
GM has invested about $60 million in GM-Ovonic since it was launched in 1994 and owns a 60 percent stake in the company. GM-Ovonic is in Troy, Mich., and has a plant in Kettering, Ohio. It supplied nickel-metal-hydride batteries to GM's EV1 electric car.
GM expects to close the deal with Texaco in four to six weeks, Kuhlman said. The venture will be renamed Texaco-Ovonic.
Ovonic Battery is a subsidiary of Energy Conversion Devices Inc., the Troy, Mich., research firm headed by former GM Chairman Robert Stempel. Texaco owns 20 percent of Energy Conversion Devices.
Last week, Texaco announced it will merge with Chevron Corp. to form ChevronTexaco Corp. The merger is conditioned on approval from shareholders and the Federal Trade Commission.