GM unveils a new electric vehicle platform and battery in bid to take on Tesla

The largest automaker in the US will spend $20 billion to assure investors it’s serious about embracing an electric future

By Andrew J. Hawkins

General Motors laid out its electric vehicle strategy on Wednesday, showcasing roughly a dozen products as part of a broader attempt to convey to investors how serious it is about embracing its electric future.

In addition to showing off some of its upcoming vehicles, GM revealed an all-new modular electric vehicle platform with an improved battery pack called Ultium. Much like Volkswagen’s so-called MEB platform, the GM platform is intended to be flexible and multifaceted, with the goal of eventually undergirding a variety of vehicle types and shapes.

The new batteries are unique because of the “large-format, pouch-style cells,” compared to cylindrical cells, which GM says enables them to be stacked vertically or horizontally inside the battery pack. These batteries will offer power ranging from 50 to 200 kWh, which could allow for a driving range up to “400 miles or more.” Motors designed in-house will support front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, all-wheel drive, and performance all-wheel drive applications.

Steve Fecht for Genreal Motors

GM altered the chemistry of its battery cells, in a move that’s distinct from most EV batteries in production today. The majority of batteries are made with NCM — nickel, cobalt, and magnesium. The Ultium batteries will add aluminum — so NCMA — and reduce the cobalt content by 70 percent. GM has also reduced by about 80 percent the amount of wiring from the EV architecture currently used in its Chevy Bolt vehicles. The hope is that this will drive battery cell costs below the $100/kWh level and allow GM to get more bang for its buck as it scales up its EV production capabilities

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