On Wednesday, General Motors invited a number of media to their tech center in Warren, MI for their EV Day event. The company is making a big bet on electric vehicles with 11 new vehicles rolling out by 2025, featuring a new electric modular platform and battery tech. Here's what we know.
Third-Generation Electric Vehicle Platform
Underpinning this massive push is GM's new third-generation EV platform (BEV3). The new platform was designed to provide flexibility for different vehicle types - ranging from compact cars to pickup trucks. Battery packs are designed to be mounted beneath the passenger compartment to allow for a lower center of gravity. This results in more passenger room and improved handling. The platform also allows for different drive configurations - front, rear, or all-wheel drive - depending on the vehicle.
Ultium Battery Technology
Providing the electric power for these new models is what GM calls Ultium batteries. Working together with its battery partner LG Chem, the Ultium batteries are large-format, pouch-style cells that can either be stacked vertically or horizontally in packs. This will allow more flexibility for engineers to design battery packs for vehicles.
More important is the chemistry of the batteries. GM has reduced the amount Cobalt - an element used in the making of batteries that is becoming harder to find and expensive - by seventy percent. Instead, the batteries are using aluminum. This will hopefully bring down the price of the battery packs.
Battery capacity will range from 50 to 200 kilowatt hours - giving a projected max range of 400 miles depending on the vehicle. Level II and DC fast-charging are both supported.
At the event, GM had 10 vehicles on display and one shown via digital renderings. The current plan is to start launching the new models beginning later this year.
- Updated Chevrolet Bolt: The first vehicle to be launched in this offensive. It will get an updated interior with a more premium dash.
- Chevrolet Bolt EUV: The crossover-variant of the Bolt, it is about five-inches longer and rides on a wheelbase that has been stretched by three inches. An updated roofline reportedly eliminates the small front windows on the Bolt. The EUV will also be the first model outside of Cadillac to get Super Cruise.
- Chevrolet Midsize Crossover: About the same size as the Blazer, this model has an aggressive design and features a low roofline. A pair of 18-inch multimedia displays dominate the interior.
- Chevrolet Full-Size Truck: This was the model only shown in digital renderings according to those who were at the event. It will complement the Silverado and be aimed at those who want something to be used on a job site - not like the upcoming GMC Hummer Truck or Rivian which are aimed more at lifestyle folks. This model is expected to arrive in 2025.
- Buick Crossover and SUV: These two models didn't have a name and were wearing a design that was described by the Detroit Free Press as a "vaguely European look".
- GMC Hummer Truck: This will only be available in a crew-cab configuration with a five-foot bed. The design will be utilitarian and boxy. Inside, two large screens will serve as the instrument cluster and infotainment system. Don't expect any leather as many of materials used inside will be made from recycled materials. The truck will also have removable roof panels (like the Jeep Wrangler, that can be stored in the front trunk.
- GMC Hummer SUV: Basically the same as the truck, albeit using a shorter wheelbase.
- Cadillac Lyriq: We have seen teasers of this model last year and Cadillac dropped another this week showing off the silhouette - reminding us some crossovers from Jaguar and Porsche. The vehicle is wide and rides on 23-inch wheels. Size-wise, it is similar to the XT5. The interior boasts a 34-inch-wide high-def screen and seating for four, though the production model may have seating for five.
- Cadillac Celestiq: A new four-door flagship sedan that has a long front end and a fastback rear according to those who saw the clay model. It will be hand-built and carry a six-figure pricetag.
- Cadillac Large SUV: About the size of an Escalade, it be complementary vehicle to it. The model will have a more traditional design than the other Cadillac EVs. Inside, it will boast large screens up front and three-rows of seating.
GM Reveals New Ultium Batteries and a Flexible Global Platform to Rapidly Grow its EV Portfolio
WARREN, Mich. – Starting today, General Motors Co. (NYSE: GM) is gathering hundreds of employees, dealers, investors, analysts, media and policymakers to share details of its strategy to grow the company’s electric vehicle (EV) sales quickly, 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.”
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 an 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
- 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.