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Unlike Tesla Motors which has gone on record saying by 2016 it will offer a Nissan Leaf-beating, 200-mile-range electric car in the low $30,000-range, General Motors plays its hand much closer to its chest, but it would be inadvisable to think the giant is sleeping.

On Wednesday last week at the annual conference of Canada’s Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association, GM’s head of global R&D let his guard down slightly in saying prototype electric cars now being evaluated on U.S. test tracks have triple the energy density of a Chevrolet Volt, and close to double that of a Tesla Model S.

A Volt has about 140 watt-hours per kilogram energy density in its LG Chem lithium-ion T-shaped battery pack. Tesla’s “skateboard” chassis now uses Panasonic cells that reportedly deliver as much as 240 Wh/kg, and Tesla CEO Elon Musk said to expect more.

And so has GM in so many words.

“Today there are prototypes out there with 400 Watt-hours per kilogram,” said Dr. J. Gary Smyth, executive director of Global Research and Development, General Motors Company.

From Envia Systems Web site

The figure of “400 Watt-hours per kilogram” stated by Smyth is however the specific claim of Envia Systems, a battery supplier in Newark, Calif., and known to be working with GM, and GM has also invested in Envia through its forward looking GM Ventures division.

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