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GM announces new battery-electric platform

New-generation, scalable GM EV platform unveiled with proprietary battery technology

5 Mar 2020

GENERAL Motors (GM) has announced its plan for a profitable EV rollout across its stable of brands with the reveal of its new scalable EV architecture, underpinned by its proprietary technology Ultium batteries.


The GM EV architecture will be used to underpin a vast array of vehicles ranging from sportscars, hatches, sedans and SUVs, all the way to heavy-duty pick-up trucks and commercial vehicles across the Detroit giant’s various brands including Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac, GMC and Hummer.


GM claims its new Ultium battery technology is unique in the industry, thanks to its pouch-style shells that can be stacked vertically or horizontally inside the battery pack, allowing for more flexible packaging to suit each application.


Using the Ultium batteries, energy options range from 50kWh to 200kWh, which will enable a driving range of up to 400 miles (644km).


With in-house-developed electric motors powering the wheels, acceleration from standstill to 60mph (97km/h) can take as little as three seconds.


The electric motors will enable the various cars to be configured in front, rear or all-wheel drive, as well as what GM calls ‘performance’ all-wheel drive.


Each EV will be compatible with DC fast charging, with most options to sport a 400-volt battery pack and 200kW fast-charging capacity, while layouts for trucks – most likely to include the Hummer EV – will have an 800V battery and allow 350kW fast charging.


While GM has not yet revealed any potential power outputs for the new architecture, the Hummer EV is slated to sport a 1000hp (746kW) output, suggesting some serious performance potential.


GM has also mapped ways to make its EV business more profitable, including bringing battery cell costs to below US$100 (A$153) per kWh, which it plans to do with research through its joint venture with LG Chem.


The all-electric layout will also allow for more homogenous powertrain configurations, with GM planning to offer 19 different battery and drive unit setups compared to the 550 internal-combustion combinations currently offered.


GM also plans to be able to licence its proprietary technology to other to other companies to add a new source of revenue.


According to forecasts, EV sales volumes in the US are expected to more than double from 2025 to 2030, which GM thinks could increase when more EVs are offered in the most popular segments.


The US auto giant also announced a limited rollout of its EV models, which will start in the US in late this year with the new Chevrolet Bolt, which will be joined by a crossover version in mid-2021.


The Cruise Origin self-driving EV shuttle was the first vehicle revealed with the new-gen battery technology in January, while the Cadillac Lyriq SUV will be uncovered in April.


The GMC Hummer will of course also be produced with the new battery technology, with production set to begin around Q3 of 2021.


The Hummer EV will be produced at GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck factory, which the company announced last month would undergo a $A3.25 billion investment to become GM’s first plant dedicated solely to the production of EVs.


The Detroit-Hamtramck facility will produce pick-ups and SUVs, meaning the Cadillac Lyriq will likely be produced there, as should an electrified version of the Chevrolet Silverado pick-up.

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