Large pouch cell battery tech at heart of GM EV strategy

Large pouch cell battery tech at heart of GM EV strategy

Technology News |
By Nick Flaherty

The modular propulsion system for next generation GM global electric vehicles is based on a proprietary low cobalt lithium ion Ultium pouch cell batteries to be built with LG Chem. High volume manufacture will drive the cost under $100/kWh, says GM, which will also license the pouch cell technology to other companies. 

The large-format pouch cells can be stacked vertically or horizontally inside the battery pack. This allows engineers to optimize the 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 (880km) or more on a full charge with 0 to 60 mph acceleration in 3s. Motors designed in-house will support front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, all-wheel drive and performance all-wheel drive applications.

The Ultium-powered EVs are designed for DC fast charging and most will have 400V battery packs and up to 200 kW fast-charging capability. Truck versionos of the platfrom will have 800V battery packs and 350 kW fast-charging capability.

There will be plans 19 different battery and drive unit configurations initially, compared with 550 internal combustion powertrain combinations available today.

“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.”

Chevrolet, Cadillac, GMC and Buick will all be launching new EVs 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, a Level 2 hands-free driving technology for the motorway. This 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, 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. A GMC HUMMER EV that uses the Ultium pouch cell technology is currently planned for May. Production is expected to begin towards the end of 2021 at the Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant, GM’s first assembly plant 100 percent dedicated to EV production.

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