GM Shows New Battery Tech, EV Roadmap

General Motors has made another big announcement today about the company's EV plans, including the next several vehicles to be revealed, the new GM electric platform, and even more about the expansion of Super Cruise semi-autonomous driving.

The new GM battery system is called Ultium, with large-format rectangular pouch-style cells that can be placed vertically or horizontally in the battery pack. GM says this is unique in the industry. Most of the cells are cylindrical, letting engineers optimize storage and layout for each vehicle design.

Options for Ultium batteries will include the ability to make packs from 50 kWh all the way to 200 kWh, which GM estimates could mean a range of up to 650 km on a single charge. The batteries would supply enough electricity for zero-100 km/h runs in as little as three seconds. Motors are designed for front, rear, and all-wheel drive applications. A built-in battery management system will slash battery pack wiring by 80 percent compared to the Bolt EV, cutting both costs and complexity.

Most of the vehicles will be built with a 400V architecture that allows charging at up to 200 kW, but the truck platform will have 800V packs and 350 kW charging capability. The new cells come from a joint venture with LG Chem that GM says will drive cell costs "well below" $100/kWh (USD), which is largely considered to be a tipping point in EV adoption. The all-new modular platform that will house the batteries can be used to build trucks, SUVs, crossovers, cars, and commercial vehicles. The Lordstown, OH, plant will have a 30 GWh annual capacity with room for expansion.

GM also cites a massive reduction in complexity. Currently, the company has 550 internal combustion powertrain combinations, but GM is planning just 19 different battery and drive unit combinations to start.

The first of the new GM EVs to launch will be a new Bolt EV, arriving in late 2020, to be followed by a Bolt EUV crossover launching in the summer of 2021. The EUV will be the first non-Cadillac vehicle to get Super Cruise hands-free driving tech.

Shown in January, the Cruise Origin was the first product revealed that uses this third-gen EV platform and Ultium batteries. Coming next will be a Cadillac SUV called the Lyriq that will be revealed in April, followed by the new Hummer EV in May with production of the Hummer set to start in Fall 2021.

Charging ahead 3/5/2020 12:38:13 PM