Al writes "Bankrupt automaker G.M. has taken a significant step towards reinventing itself by opening a battery laboratory in Michigan on a site that once churned out internal combustion engines. The new facility lets G.M. engineers simulate all kinds of conditions to determine how long batteries will last once they're inside its vehicles. Battery packs are charged and discharged while being subjected to high and low temperatures as well as extremes of humidity. Engineers can also simulate different altitudes by placing the packs in barometric chambers. The facility has also been designed so that engineers located in New York and Germany and at the University of Michigan can perform experiments remotely. Despite its financial troubles, G.M. has committed to producing the Volt and is already working on second- and third-generation battery technology at the new lab."