Volkswagen seemed to be the only legacy automaker betting big in electric cars. GM probably noticed that and decided to make a stand at the Barclays Global Automotive Conference. Mary Barra announced there that the company would invest more than $27 billion to have 30 new global electric cars by 2025. And there is good news for Nikola too.
To achieve scale gains, the executive GM is still pursuing “third-party licensing for its Ultium EV architecture, batteries, and propulsion systems,” one of the points of its agreement with Nikola. The other one was the licensing of GM’s Hydrotec fuel cell technology, which GM has developed with Honda. For the record, Barra also said it wants to let others use it.
Back to the part that regards only GM, the company will have two-thirds of these EVs in North America, which does not mean they will not be in China as well. The biggest car market in the world is crucial for all automakers, and these EV efforts probably focus more on Chinese customers than on American ones – for a simple reason.
While the Chinese government already has a huge commitment to electric cars due to pollution issues in its megalopolises, American customers are not that much into EVs, as the latest J.D. Power's Mobility Confidence Index revealed.
In other words, although the US is not leading the effort, it will get there trailing behind Chinese trends for a matter of scale once again. If GM is to develop new EVs for China, it can adapt them to American tastes and sell them in the US as well.
Although the Ultium platform is not here yet, GM is already talking about its second generation. The company promises that it will deliver twice the energy density the Chevy Bolt battery pack offers for less than half of what it costs. The company believes that it will bring EVs closer to price parity with combustion-engined vehicles, which is somehow pessimistic.
According to UBS, that will happen in 2024 already, and there are people claiming it will be achieved even earlier. By saying it will be closer to that in the middle of the decade, GM either does not believe it will occur or that it may occur, but not with the company’s products.
Despite that, GM now believes its future Ultium-based vehicles will deliver a maximum range of 450 miles and not 400 miles, as the company stated before. It is not clear what made it revise these numbers.
It is worth remembering the Ultium batteries result from a partnership GM has with LG Energy Solution, dating back from when it was still called LG Chem. The South Korean company is currently facing two recalls due to fires in its battery packs: one with GM and one with Hyundai.
Volkswagen also buys its batteries from LG Energy Solution for MEB vehicles. Still, it already adopts a buffering approach that does not allow them to be fully charged, unlike the Chevy Bolt and the Hyundai Kona Electric. Ultium vehicles mays adopt a similar strategy.
Last but not least, we should point out that GM's press release mentions that the Cadillac Lyriq will launch in early 2022 now, not late 2022 as GM had previously targeted. GM further adds that:
Product timelines have moved up for:
• GMC HUMMER EV
• Three other GMC Ultium variants, including an EV pickup
• Four Chevrolet EVs, including a pickup and compact crossover
• Four Cadillacs , including the Cadillac LYRIQ, which will move up 9 months to the first quarter of 2022