Electric Vehicles

GM's engineers rise to the challenge of developing flexible electric vehicle platform, new battery

General Motors has revealed more details on its electric vehicle future.

Photo courtesy of General Motors

General Motors CEO Mary Barra has worked to reposition the company for an electrified future, charging the research and development teams with creating the hardware and software to make it happen. This week the company announced that they have successfully developed a new flexible platform and batteries to move that proposed future closer to reality.

"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."

General Motors EV platform The new platform will be used across the globe. Photo courtesy of General Motors

The new Ultium batteries feature large-format, pouch-style cells that can be stacked vertically or horizontally inside the battery pack. This arrangement option allows engineers to stack the cells in a way that makes sense for the vehicle and customer, on a global scale.

The energy options for the batteries range from 50 to 200 kWh, which can result in a GM-estimated range of up to 400 miles on a full charge. The 2020 Chevrolet Bolt, the automaker's only electric vehicle currently sold in the U.S., has a 259-mile all-electric range.

Electric vehicles that are propelled by the batteries are designed for Level 2 and DC fast charging. The batteries in the truck platform will consist of 800-volt battery packs and 350 kWh fast-charging capability. This is a nod to what we can expect for the forthcoming GMC Hummer EV, which will be unveiled in May.

Currently, General Motors offers about 550 internal combustion powertrain combinations. The plan is to roll out 19 different battery and drive unit confirmations.

Third-party forecasters expect GM to sell 3 million EVs on average between 2025 and 2030.

GM has designed motors to pair with the batteries that support front-, rear-, and all-wheel drive applications.

General Motors EV platform The battery cells can be arranged vertically or horizontally. Photo courtesy of General Motors

"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."

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 will be the first model to use GM's third generation EV platform and Ultium batteries. Next will be the Cadillac Lyriq luxury SUV in April.

GM is teaming up with Ventec Life Systems to help with the production of respiratory care products.

Photo courtesy of General Motors

Though General Motors plants are idled by the outbreak of COVID-19, colloquially known as coronavirus, General Motors is stepping up to use their logistics, purchasing, and manufacturing knowledge to aid Ventec Life Systems with the manufacturing of respiratory car products.

The partnership is in cooperation with StopTheSpread.org, the nation's coordinated private sector response to the COVID-19.

According to a statement, "Ventec will leverage GM's logistics, purchasing and manufacturing expertise to build more of their critically important ventilators." This statement does not explicitly say that GM will manufacture ventilators, rather that they will be a resource for Ventec.

"With GM's help, Ventec will increase ventilator production," said Chris Kiple, Ventec Life Systems CEO. "By tapping their expertise, GM is enabling us to get more ventilators to more hospitals much faster. This partnership will help save lives."

StopTheSpread.org has committed to continuing to unite business leaders nationwide to collect resources to complement and support government efforts to battle the outbreak and its consequences.

"We are grateful for the partnership between GM and Ventec Life Systems, which will enable Ventec to drastically scale production of critically needed respiratory care products. This is a vital step in delivering relief to our healthcare system, which is threatened by the spread of COVID-19. As this virus continues to endanger the lives of countless Americans, StopTheSpread.org is working to unite the business community around a common threat to our economy and our way of life. We know the strength of this effort relies on urgent coordination between the public and private sectors in order to get through this crisis."

General Motors employees will soon have more access to chargers at work.

Photo courtesy of General Motors

When your CEO lays out a business model that includes mass electrification, it only makes that one of the first steps is employee buy-in to the plan via driving electrified vehicles. To help facilitate that model selection, General Motors is installing 3,500 new electric vehicle (EV) charging stations at its company facilities in the U.S. and Canada. The infusion will triple the number of charging stations already provided.

"This is another step down the path to making EV ownership easier for everyone, especially for our own employees," said Mark Reuss, GM president. "Charging infrastructure is crucial to wider acceptance of EVs, and we'll continue to do everything we can to improve it, both for our employees and for all our customers. We encourage other companies to do likewise."

According to a release, "GM will prioritize charging installation sites based on employee need and will work with charging infrastructure companies to begin installing the charging locations starting in late 2020. GM employees will have access to Level 2 charging, ideal for efficiently charging EVs throughout a workday. Level 2 chargers can charge the current Chevrolet Bolt EV model up to a speed of 25 miles every hour."

General Motors has mostly bypassed the plug-in hybrid electric vehicle trend and gone straight to electric vehicles save for the Chevrolet Volt (may it rest in peace). But, the Bolt EV is alive and kicking. GMC will introduce the Hummer EV in May, a Cadillac EV is on the way, and there are undoubtedly numerous other electrified vehicles in the pipeline in the near future.

"Over 90 percent of EV owners charge either at home, at work or a combination of both," said Rick Spina, vice president of EV/AV commercialization and infrastructure. "We have new EVs from GMC for the 2022 model year and from Cadillac planned for the 2023 model year, and we want to make it as convenient as possible for our employees to enjoy the rewards of EV ownership."

GM recently announced changes to its myChevrolet app which allow for dynamic navigation and other features meant to make life with an EV easier.

GM recently accelerated its commitment to power 100 percent of global operations with renewable energy by 2040. In the U.S., 100 percent of facilities will be powered with renewable energy by 2030.