General Motors (GM) has unveiled its next-generation battery, Ultium, and flexible platforms,media reported. The car company hopes the platform will make electric cars more cost-effective and have longer ranges. Ultium, a joint venture between GM and LG Chemical, focuses on reducing battery costs to less than $100 a kilowatt-hour to pave the way for cheaper electric vehicles with more than 400 miles of zero-emissions range.
While GM is clearly not a newcomer to the electric car industry, it is fair to say that its choice sparks hopes in the automotive world. The automaker’s current Chevrolet Bolt EV– a compact hatchback– offers 259 miles of EPA-class range in its only all-electric model in 2020.
But at the same time, GM has insisted that it is ready for an electric revolution. The company has listed Cadillac as the dominant brand for the next generation of electric cars, but there will be more Chevrolet electric cars in other models. In addition, it even rebooted the Hummer name, rebranding the former “oil tiger” into a GM-branded all-electric vehicle with more than 1,000 horsepower. Now, everyone knows what will underpin these plans.
GM Ultium Battery
Electric cars need batteries, and that’s exactly what GM has been working with LG Chemical over the past few years, with the result of a patented Ultium battery that will collaborate with GM’s third-generation global electric vehicle platform. The battery itself relies on a new low-cobalt chemical, and the carmaker says it can produce batteries at $100/kH at an “early” stage of the product’s life cycle. Back in 2017, GM said its Bolt EV battery cost about $145 per kWh.
Ultium batteries can be stacked vertically or horizontally throughout the battery pack, providing greater flexibility in layout and energy storage. They are designed for level 2 and DC fast charging, but charge rates, total capacity, and mileage vary. For example, GM says the Ultium battery can run in sizes ranging from 50 to 200 kWh. At the top end, the carmaker estimates that a 200kWh Ultium electric car can travel more than 400 miles at a time, with a 100-kilometer acceleration of just three seconds.
Most Ultium-based electric cars will have a 400-volt battery pack and support up to 200 kW of fast charging. GM is saving 800 volts and 350 kW of fast charges for its truck platform.
The new Ultium EV platform is key to results
Of course, for a commercially successful electric car, a good battery is not enough. This requires a platform, and preferably one that can be expanded in such a way that a wide variety of vehicles can be built across body styles and price points based on a common architecture. Volkswagen has already invested heavily in meB, and now GM plans to do the same.
GM’s BEV3 platform will use an internally designed electric motor, which will enable it to support front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive, as well as “performance all-wheel drive” vehicles in different configurations. From trucks and SUVs to crossovers and cars to commercial vehicles, the platform will be supported.
GM can’t afford to lose its lead
GM invested a lot of money in the development of its Volt hybrid, only to cut it off, apparently hoping to avoid losing money for every electric car it sells. The company insists this will not happen on the Ultium platform.
“GM’s future first-generation electric vehicle project will be profitable. The initial plan will pave the way for further growth. GM’s technology could scale up to meet customer demand, which would be far higher than the company’s expected global sales of more than 1 million vehicles around 2025. “
GM will invest $2.2 billion in its Detroit-Hamtrak plant, making it the company’s electric car production center. GM is expected to launch its first electric car by the end of 2021, but this will be just the beginning.
In fact, GM believes that its new technology has a purpose beyond its own ends. Just as Volkswagen licenses MEB to other carmakers, GM says it can go beyond its fleet to license batteries and other technologies to other companies. GM’s first model using Ultium and a third-generation platform has actually been released – cruise Origin self-driving electric car, released in January.