General Motors strategy to grow the company’s electric vehicle (EV) market share centres around its in-house pouch cell designed lithium-ion drive train.
The Ultium battery uses large-format, pouch-style cells that can be stacked vertically or horizontally inside the battery pack to optimise energy storage capacity and allow bespoke layout for vehicle design.
Using a proprietary low-cobalt chemistry, GM claims the battery costs will be below $100/kWh, and ongoing technological and manufacturing breakthroughs will drive costs even lower.
GM claims the battery packs will deliver 50-200kWh, which would enable a estimated driving range up to 400+ miles on a full charge with 0 to 60 mph acceleration in three seconds.
That would make it better than Tesla’s Model S long range vehicle which has a driving range of around 370 miles, and far exceeds the driving range of any other brand available today.
The EVs will have up to 400-volt battery packs and up to 200kW fast-charging capability, while its truck platform will have 800-volt battery packs and 350kW fast-charging capability.
The batteries were developed through a $2.3 billion new joint venture with LG Chem that aims to break ground on a battery cell assembly plant in Ohio, US, later this year.
Mary Barra, GM chairman and CEO. “What we have done is build a multi-brand, multi-segment EV strategy with economies of scale that rival our full-size truck business, with much less complexity and even more flexibility.”
GM plans 19 different battery and drive unit configurations initially, compared with 550 internal combustion powertrain combinations available today.
The Cruise Origin, a self-driving, electric shared vehicle is the first product using GM’s third generation EV platform and Ultium batteries. Next will be the Cadillac Lyriq luxury SUV in April. The Ultium-powered GMC Hummer EV will follow on May 20.