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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Ford is givinng Mustang Mach-E GT buyers the option of upgrading to an even more powerful variant next year.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The first Ford Mustang Mach-E hasn't even been delivered to a customer yet, but the company is wasting no time expanding its model lineup. The Mustang Mach-E GT Performance Edition is joining the stable given more boost to the crossover. Fordi s targeting a 3.5-second zero to 60 mph time for the model.

Ford says that the Mustang Mach-E GT Performance will deliver 480 horsepower and 634 pound-feet of torque to drivers. It is targeted to have an EPA-estimated range of 253 miles. Ford has been spot-on with its mileage estimates so far. The EPA just finalized their estimated range for a number of Mustang Mach-Es and only one was not what the company had initially said - it was one mile better.

2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E GT The Mustang Mach-E is an all-electric vehicle.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

"We already pushed the envelope by creating an electric vehicle with the pony badge, so it's only natural that we push it even further," said Darren Palmer, global director, battery electric vehicles, Ford Motor Company. "Mustang Mach-E GT Performance Edition not only gives you the added performance you expect from the GT name, but accentuates the thrill with the responsiveness of an all-electric powertrain."

The new car isn't just a performance boost from the power plant. Ford is giving the model 19-inch front brakes with red-painted Brembo calipers. The model will ride on 20-inch machined-face Ebonny Black-painted pocket wheels that are wrapped in 245/45R20 Pirelli summer tires. Its standard MagneRide damping system helps to enhance handling. At the rear isa. Performance Edition GT badge.

The interior gets and upgrade too. The Ford Performance-sculpted front seats feature Performance Gray ActiveX material with metallic stitching and unique Miko perforated reflective inserts.The all-digital instrument panel has an aluminum appliqué.

Both Mustang Mach-E GT and Mustang Mach-E GT Performance Edition will be available in signature Mustang colors including Cyber Orange Metallic Tri-Coat, Dark Matter Gray Metallic, Rapid Red Metallic Tinted Clearcoat, Star White Metallic Tri-Coat, Grabber Blue Metallic, Shadow Black, Iconic Silver Metallic and Space White Metallic.

2022 Ford Mustang Mach-E GT The model features unique tires, brakes, and interior appointments.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Reserve the Mustang Mach-E GT here. Customers who have already reserved the Mustang Mach-E GT will have the opportunity to add the Performance Edition package at time of ordering in spring 2021.

Mustang Mach-E GT and GT Performance Edition will be available late next summer.

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Chrysler introduced the Pacifica Pinnacle to its lineup for the 2021 model year.

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Minivans are usually relegated to mommy duty. They get used and abused by children of all ages, and they can take the beating. In the U.S. there are no luxury minivans. The segment is dominated by comfortable but rather utilitarian vehicles that deliver exactly what the average customer is expecting - and there's nothing wrong with that.

But then someone (maybe two someones, or three) at Chrysler had an idea. What if they pushed the Pacifica further into premium territory, offering a near-luxury version of a minivan? Would people buy it? The answer, after one solid day behind the wheel is, "they should."

2020 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle The Pacifica received a new front end for 2021.Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

The 2021 Chrysler Pacifica is a facelifted version of the van that debuted for the 2017 model year. It continues to be an attractive model, as far as minivans go. This version of the Pacifica has a more muscular aesthetic, shying away from the elegance of the previous three years. The sides and back are great but I honestly can't decide if I like the front or not, but it does remind me more of the Chrysler 300 than the previous iteration did.

New for 2021, all-wheel drive (AWD) is offered, bringing the Pacifica to the table that's been occupied solely by the Toyota Sienna for a long while. It's the first AWD minivan Chrysler has sold since 2004 and something buyers have been asking for since the Pacifica debuted, according to company insiders.

The Chrysler Pacifica itself is already in a position to go luxury. It's certainly already gained premium model status based solely on the Voyager-Pacifica split which saw Pacifica's lower cost grades become Voyager models, which were then modified for fleet and commercial use. The Voyager also effectively replaced the Dodge Grand Caravan in FCA's lineup as a cost-effective minivan solution.

This left room for the Pacifica Pinnacle, a new top-tier trim level that really shows up for the premium buyer. Not only is the Pacifica Pinnacle's design just as practical as the other models in the lineup, it goes the extra mile with comfort, soft-touch materials, and classy finishes.

2020 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle Pacifica Pinnacle models are the top of the heap for minivans buyers.Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Like the revised 2022 Kia Sedona, the Pacifica has a flat dashboard. In the Pacifica, it's anchored by a largest-in-class 10.1-inch touchscreen (the same size as the screens in the rear entertainment system but higher resolution). The lower half of the center stack is tilted toward the console and houses the shifter and climate controls. As tested in the Pinnacle trim, there was an abundance of Piano Black plastic trim with wood accents and real metal surrounds that easily make it the poshest new minivan on sale right now. Quilted leather seats, sueded center row pillows, and Beber floor mats complete the upscale look.

Unlike others in its class, the Pacifica doesn't appear lightweighted for efficiency to the point of cheapness. The doors have a well-weighted feel and close with a commanding thud. The thuds of road travel, surrounding vehicles' music choices, and engine noise are kept at bay thanks to new windows, seals, and insulation.

The minivans seats are comfortable and spacious. Unlike in other minivans, the center console and surrounding storage does not make the front row seats feel isolated from each other.

As tested, the Pacifica Pinnacle was powered by Chrysler's 3.6-liter V6 engine, that is paired with a nine-speed automatic transmission and delivers 287 horsepower and 262 pound-feet of torque. It was equipped with AWD, which is standard for the trim level, unless you opt for the hybrid.

2020 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle The new infotainment system in the Pacifica Pinnacle runs smoothly and is a pleasure to use.Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

As it does with other vehicle's the Pacifica's AWD automatically acts when a set of conditions are met. With the Pacifica this means it works when it senses a temperature slip, when the electronic stability control is activated, while driving on a rough road, when a grade is steep, if conditions are slippery, when the steering wheel movement sways back and forth, or when there's a full throttle request on the powertrain.

If the AWD system senses that you're driving on a highway, or in conditions that don't require its use, it will deactivate automatically to improve the vehicle's fuel efficiency. This activation and deactivation process is so smooth you probably won't even notice it happening. However, you can feel the wheels engage and demonstrate the system's engineering when the conditions require it.

Having the AWD system doesn't mean that you have to forego Chrysler's Stow 'n Go storage system. Power-sliding rear doors, three-zone climate control (which still blows to circulate air even in the off setting), power first- and second-row windows, an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat, Stow 'n Go bucket seats with in-floor storage bins, driver's side Stow 'n Assist, and a Stow 'n Go third-row bench seat are all standard equipment. The Pacifica's seats don't have the extensive forward and aft travel the Toyota Sienna does, but the Stow 'n Go seats tumble into the floor to allow for flat loading. The Pacifica Pinnacle offers best-in-class total storage of 227.6 liters.

FCA's new Uconnect 5 infotainment operating system runs in the background of the Pacifica's screens. The system is graphically appealing, is quickly responsive, and features clean design. Though the system could stand to have a head-up display paired with it (Chrysler does not offer one in the Pacifica), the navigation is easy to use and read on the fly, and reroutes rapidly, even in urban settings with tall buildings surrounding the van.

2020 Chrysler Pacifica Pinnacle The Pacifica Pinnacle's seats are finely upholstered and come with two pillows.Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Chrysler has given its Pinnacle model FamCam, an interior monitoring camera similar to what is in the Honda Odyssey, that takes in-cabin camera tech a step further offering the segment-exclusive rear-facing child seat view split-view display, and zoom-to-seat feature, among traditional camera functionality.

The Chrysler Pacifica comes standard with 97 safety features, and in the Pinnacle trim level that number swells to 100.

At over $53,000, the Pacifica Pinnacle is well into premium territory on price tag alone. However, it tops out in similar territory to its rivals, but is far more luxurious. Plus, it has AWD.

Look, it's not an SUV, but if you get around the "I'm not a minivan mom" mindset, the reality you might find is that the Pacifica Pinnacle is just as nice as a luxury three-row SUV, but with more and better functionality for everyday family life. Plus, it drives just as well.

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