GM revealed its new EV platform and batteries. Moreover, the automaker announced that the next new Chevrolet EV will be a new version of the Bolt EV, launching in late 2020.
Let’s see the most interesting parts of the press release.
The heart of GM’s strategy is a modular propulsion system and a highly flexible, third-generation global EV platform powered by proprietary Ultium batteries. They will allow the company to compete for nearly every customer in the market today, whether they are looking for affordable transportation, a luxury experience, work trucks or a high-performance machine.
Ultium Batteries and Propulsion System Highlights
- GM’s new Ultium batteries are unique in the industry because the large-format, pouch-style cells can be stacked vertically or horizontally inside the battery pack. This allows engineers to optimize battery energy storage and layout for each vehicle design.
- Ultium energy options range from 50 to 200 kWh, which could enable a GM-estimated range up to 400 miles or more on a full charge with 0 to 60 mph acceleration as low as 3 seconds. Motors designed in-house will support front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, all-wheel drive and performance all-wheel drive applications.
- Ultium-powered EVs are designed for Level 2 and DC fast charging. Most will have 400-volt battery packs and up to 200 kW fast-charging capability while our truck platform will have 800-volt battery packs and 350 kW fast-charging capability.
GM’s flexible, modular approach to EV development will drive significant economies of scale and create new revenue opportunities, including:
- Continuous Improvement in Battery Costs: GM’s joint venture with LG Chem will drive battery cell costs below $100/kWh. The cells use a proprietary low cobalt chemistry and ongoing technological and manufacturing breakthroughs will drive costs even lower.
- Flexibility: GM’s all-new global platform is flexible enough to build a wide range of trucks, SUVs, crossovers, cars and commercial vehicles with outstanding design, performance, packaging, range and affordability.
- Capital Efficiency: GM can spend less capital to scale its EV business because it is able to leverage existing property, including land, buildings, tools and production equipment such as body shops and paint shops.
- Complexity Reduction: The vehicle and propulsion systems were designed together to minimize complexity and part counts beyond today’s EVs, which are less complex than conventional vehicles powered by internal combustion engines. For example, GM plans 19 different battery and drive unit configurations initially, compared with 550 internal combustion powertrain combinations available today.
- Rising Customer Acceptance: Third-party forecasters expect U.S. EV volumes to more than double from 2025 to 2030 to about 3 million units on average. GM believes volumes could be materially higher as more EVs are launched in popular segments, charging networks grow and the total cost of ownership to consumers continues to fall.
- New Sources of Revenue: By vertically integrating the manufacture of battery cells, the company can reach beyond its own fleet and license technology to others.
The first generation of GM’s future EV program will be profitable. The initial programs will pave the way for further accretive growth. GM’s technology can be scaled to meet customer demand much higher than the more than 1 million global sales the company expects mid-decade.
Upcoming Launches and Reveals
Chevrolet, Cadillac, GMC and Buick will all be launching new EVs starting this year. The next new Chevrolet EV will be a new version of the Bolt EV, launching in late 2020, followed by the 2022 Bolt EUV, launching Summer 2021. The Bolt EUV will be the first vehicle outside of the Cadillac brand to feature Super Cruise, the industry’s first true hands-free driving technology for the highway, which GM will expand to 22 vehicles by 2023, including 10 by next year.
The Cruise Origin, a self-driving, electric shared vehicle, shown to the public in January 2020 in San Francisco, was the first product revealed using GM’s third generation EV platform and Ultium batteries. Next will be the Cadillac Lyriq luxury SUV in April. Details about its launch will be shared then. The reveal of the Ultium-powered GMC HUMMER EV will follow on May 20. Production is expected to begin in Fall 2021 at GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant, GM’s first assembly plant 100 percent dedicated to EV production.
New EV platform and batteries highlights:
- New skateboard platform
- Available in front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive
- Battery capacities available from 50 to 200 kWh
- 400-volt battery packs up to 200 kW fast-charging capability
- 800-volt battery packs up to 350 kW fast-charging capability for trucks
- Range up to 400 miles (644 km)
- 0-60 mph in 3 seconds
- LG Chem low-cobalt content battery cells below 100 USD (89 euros) per kWh
If we read the PDF we get more details about the battery cells than what we have from the press release. GM lists the advantages of large format pouch cells and built-in BMS (Battery Management System).
A unique, low cost battery chemistry and easy to manufacture design.
- GM’s new Ultium batteries will have the highest nickel and lowest cobalt content in a large format pouch cell.
- Large format pouch cells require less wiring and plumbing than small cylindrical cells.
- Our battery management system is built in, which eliminates 80 percent of the battery pack’s wiring compared to the Bolt EV.
- GM’s joint venture with LG Chem to develop and mass produce battery cells will drive cell costs below $100 per kWh. Ongoing technological and manufacturing breakthroughs will drive costs even lower.
Furthermore, GM also adds some information about the future of batteries.
New technologies under development to improve charging, cycling, range, cost and battery life include:
- Zero cobalt and zero nickel cathodes
- The use of electrolyte additives to heal cell “scratches” that reduce cycling
- Solid state batteries
A zero cobalt and zero nickel cathode is what we get with LFMP. Anyway, I’m looking forward to see what the 2021 Chevrolet Bolt EV will be like later this year.