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Monday, March 20, 2023

Versatile on battery cells in EV ramp

GM has constructed a powerful argument round the concept one particular battery cell format, co-developed with LG, is a key for the corporate realizing sure economies of scale because it ramps up EV manufacturing. 

However current reviews have steered that GM is procuring round, and could also be contemplating a shift to cylindrical cells for some upcoming autos. And whereas remarks this week from the corporate’s prime govt didn’t affirm that, they steered that the corporate might now not be as targeted on that singular answer because it was two years in the past, when it revealed its Ultium propulsion technique for scaling up EVs. 

In a convention name with monetary analysts held Tuesday, GM CEO Mary Barra confirmed that sure, the corporate is taking a look at different codecs—because it has all alongside. 

General Motors' BEV3 platform and Ultium batteries

Basic Motors’ BEV3 platform and Ultium batteries

“One of many robust factors of the Ultium platform is that it’s chemistry-agnostic and it could possibly take pouch, prismatic, or cylindrical cells,” Barra mentioned. “And so we will look to what’s going to be the best battery for the precise car from a efficiency perspective, so we’ve got that full flexibility.”

Barra known as the report of a dedication to cylindrical cells “hypothesis.” However she did remark a bit extra on the thought at a number of factors. 

“Our group has been working and taking a look at all three cell kind components for some time,” Barra added, in response to a different follow-up query on the cells. She pointed to how GM is at present putting in prismatic cells into a number of Ultium-based autos as in-built China—the Cadillac Lyriq and at the least one Buick mannequin.”

One to rule all of them

Within the U.S., GM has emphasised that its single large-format pouch cell may be configured horizontally or vertically into modules, permitting single- or double-layer packs appropriate for carrying six to 24 modules. That would underpin all the things from mid-size automobiles and sports activities automobiles, or crossovers just like the $30,000 Chevrolet Equinox EV, on as much as gigantic vehicles just like the GMC Hummer EV and upcoming Chevy Silverado EV

2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV Work Truck prototype

2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV Work Truck prototype

GM additionally confirmed in its replace that it is nonetheless planning to ramp up manufacturing of the Silverado EV WT (Work Truck) for industrial clients this spring.

Individually GM and Honda are additionally working collectively on an Ultium platform appropriate for compact automobiles, with the primary autos due by 2027.

GM has additionally emphasised that the Ultium platform’s industry-first wi-fi battery administration system will make the substitutions of modules filled with totally different chemistries or cell sorts straightforward to combine with out having to fully redesign the pack. 

Possible electric Chevrolet Camaro in GM Ultium teaser video

Potential electrical Chevrolet Camaro in GM Ultium teaser video

There are some actual packaging drawbacks, although. Its cell format—a bigger pouch cell than some other automaker is utilizing—has created some significantly tall pack kind components, although. A shift to cylindrical cells would possibly assist decrease their profile for passenger autos and make the autos simpler to design for peak aerodynamics and driving vary. 

What about economies of scale?

Monetary analysts in GM’s quarterly name didn’t take the query to the following step—by urgent Barra, maybe, on how such a choice would possibly have an effect on the price of the cells or the horizon for attending to economies of scale, which the corporate hasn’t shied away from speaking about prior to now. GM had mentioned a pair years in the past that the Ultium technique’s large-format NCMA pouch cell—co-developed between GM and LG—was “priceless” as a result of it allowed the automaker to maintain driving down value with economies of scale on the best way to parity with combustion autos later this decade. 

The corporate has additionally teased that it’s been operating sturdiness testing on its “next-gen Ultium” cells that is perhaps phased in for the later a part of the last decade—probably subbed in simply with the pliability of the platform. These would possibly additional assist affordability whereas giving the corporate the selection to prioritize value or a 600-mile vary

GM Ultium battery

GM Ultium battery

In Tuesday’s name, Barra known as LG Power Answer “an extremely essential associate” to GM, and reported that the businesses are working properly collectively on the launches of crops within the Lordstown, Ohio, one in Spring Hill, Tennessee, this summer time, and one in Lansing, Michigan to comply with in 2024.

“And we’re going to want a fourth plant and extra crops past that…proper now, there’s nothing that is actually modified in our plan to have battery manufacturing functionality right here within the U.S. and broadly, in North America as properly,” Barra mentioned.

GM could also be taking part in wait-and-see with that fourth plant for a number of potential causes. Every of three upcoming battery crops goals for 37 to 40 gigawatt-hours yearly. As soon as ramped up, they would offer sufficient capability for properly over one million EVs a yr. 

Conceptual drawing of Ultium Cells plant in Tennessee

Conceptual drawing of Ultium Cells plant in Tennessee

For no matter motive, Barra didn’t reiterate that the fourth battery plant would produce the identical cell format that it’s mentioned is vital for economies of scale. 

Whether or not this implies the fourth plant would possibly construct cells in a special—maybe cylindrical—format, or whether or not GM is merely delaying the choice relying on the uneasy implementation of the EV tax credit score and its home sourcing guidelines, it appears the automaker is holding its choices open. 

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