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.

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The new Lotus Digital Instrument Pack is perfect for a track day.

Photo courtesy of Lotus Cars

Life at the track in your Lotus is getting easier thanks to the company's new Digital Instrument Pack. The digital dashboard features integrated GPS technology and lap performance indicators allowing drivers to measure, display, and record data.

The system is designed for Lotus Elise and V6 Exige models that were built from 2008 to today.

It comes loaded with the details of 4,127 race tracks worldwide and, using GPS technology, automatically recognizes when a driver is near a track. Drivers are able to download start/finish line co-ordinates so they can calculate lap times, then analyze their performance in real time on the digital display or later by downloading data to a laptop.

Lotus Digital Instrument Pack

Photo courtesy of Lotus Cars

The system's branded start-up imagery appears on the display of the high-contrast six-inch TFT screen. The pack features a camera input that allows drivers to add a portable action camera that would capture the action from each lap.

Chris Hinks, Aftersales Director, Lotus, said the Digital Instrument Pack is designed for drivers who want to take their Lotus track day experience to the next level, "We know our customers appreciate the motorsport heritage of Lotus cars and love to use their own vehicles on track days. Integrating a Digital Instrument Pack into an Elise or Exige is only going to enhance that experience."

The pack fits into the Elise or Exige dashboard, seamlessly. It replaces the original factory instrumentation.

Lotus is making the pack available in all markets where the two cars are sold. In the U.K., the pack is priced at £1,470 including VAT and a fitting service is available at an extra cost. When fitted by a Lotus retailer the pack is covered by a two-year warranty. Prices in other markets will vary.

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The Audi A7 will be available later this year in a plug-in hybrid format.

Photo courtesy of Audi AG

Audi has revealed the third plug-in hybrid in its lineup, the 2021 A7 55 TFSI e, a powerful option for executive car buyers. It joins the Audi Q5 TFSI e and Audi A8 TFSI e as the only PHEVs in the company's U.S. lineup.

The A7 gets its power from a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that is paired with an electric motor and seven-speed dual-clutch transmission. The car has a total system output of 362 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. All-wheel drive is standard.

Audi's new sedan can run as a hybrid or on all-electric power. Drivers can utilize the vehicle in three drive modes: hybrid, EV, and Battery Hold. Hybrid mode is activated automatically when the navigation system is issuing guidance in order to optimize battery power and reduce fuel consumption. In EV mode, the car exclusively uses battery power up to a certain speed. Battery Hold mode utilizes the car's powertrain to keep the battery capacity at its current level.

2021 Audi A7 55 TSFI e Photo courtesy of Audi AG

The A7 holds its lithium-ion battery under the rear cargo area of the sportback sedan. Final EPA-estimated fuel economy and range numbers are pending. The 14.1-kilowatt-hour battery features 104 pouch cells with a voltage of 381 volts.

Audi's predictive efficiency assist technology adjust the vehicle's behavior to save on fuel. According to the automaker, ". Detectable haptic feedback from the accelerator pedal and a visual signal in the MMI and head-up display indicate the proper time to let off the accelerator to use as much kinetic energy as possible."

The model comes standard with Audi's S line exterior package, which includes specific front and rear fascia designs, fender badgers, and illuminated doorsill inlays. The car also has Matrix-design LED headlights, high beam assist, quad-zone automatic climate control, Audi advanced key, Audi Virtual Cockpit, ad PHEV-specific displays within the infotainment system and cockpit. It rides on 20-inch Audi Sport five-twin-arm wheels wrapped in all-season tires.

The roster of standard features continues with audible low-speed exterior e Sound, a top view camera with Virtual 360 view, Integrated Toll Module, the Audi MIB 3 infotainment operating system, heated front seats, and leather upholstery for all five passengers.

A variety of packages are available.

Audi Virtual Cockpit now displays speed reductions, including those for speed limits, tow signs, curves, downward slopes, traffic circles, intersections, and highway exits.

The fresh version of the A7 can be charged at any SAE J1772 charging station or at home. Audi has partnered with Amazon Home for home charger installation should a vehicle buyer decide they want to install a charger at their residence. Charging can be monitored via the myAudi app.

The 2021 Audi A7 TFSI e starts at $74,900, a $5,000 increase over the base gasoline-only A7 55 TSFI. It will be available in Premium Plus and Prestige trim levels (the traditional A7 55 is available in three, including the lower grade Premium offering).

Audi says that customers who purchase purchasing the 2021 Audi A7 55 TFSI e will be eligible for a federal tax credit of up to $6,712. Additional state incentives may also be available.

The model is expected to arrive in dealerships later this year.

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