General Motors Unveils Novel Ultium Batteries and Flexible Platform, Targets EV Expansion

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

March 05, 2020. By News Bureau

General Motors (GM) has announced that it has shared details of its plan to grow the company’s electric vehicle (EV) sales rapidly, efficiently and profitably. “Our team accepted the challenge to transform product development at GM and position our company for an all-electric future,” said 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.”

At 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.

“Thousands of GM scientists, engineers and designers are working to execute a historic reinvention of the company,” said GM President Mark Reuss. “They are on the cusp of delivering a profitable EV business that can satisfy millions of customers.”

Ultium Batteries and Propulsion System Highlights

The firm’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.

The 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 the 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.

The firm has pointed out that its flexible, modular approach to EV development will drive significant economies of scale and create new revenue opportunities, including:

  • Continuous Improvement in Battery Costs: The firms’ joint venture with LG Chem will drive battery cell costs below USD 100/kWh. The cells use proprietary low cobalt chemistry and ongoing technological and manufacturing breakthroughs will drive costs even lower.
  • Flexibility: Its 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: It 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 minimise complexity and part counts beyond today’s EVs, which are less complex than conventional vehicles powered by internal combustion engines. For example, it 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 US EV volumes to more than double from 2025 to 2030 to about 3 million units on average. It 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 the technology to others.
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