General Motors is adopting a new battery technology that will see huge improvements in range and cost. The announcement came straight from President Mark Reuss during an interview with David Ignatius as part of a forward-looking series by the Washington Post.
The automaker has teamed with SolidEnergy Systems (SES) to develop the tech, which will be its next generation of Ultium cells. It has already performed simulations at its Tech Center in Warren, Michigan amounting to 150,000 road miles. The tech is characterized by GM as a lithium metal battery with a protected anode.
These simulations involve sophisticated computer models, which put the cells through the energy flows they would experience inside of packs of vehicles while they charge, do hard accelerations, and use regenerative braking.
Assuming they are using the latest battery in the Bolt EV and EUV as a starting point as they've done in past discussions of future battery tech, Reuss says these new cells will offer double the density of today's batteries at 60 percent of the cost.
Those are the kind of numbers that will help GM reduce electric vehicle prices and allow them to offer electric vehicles in every market niche, including more value-oriented brands like Chevrolet.
To put them into context, Reuss says they are approaching 450 miles of range with the upcoming GMC Hummer EV now– incidentally, the company had previously only said that vehicle's range would be over 400 miles – and this Li-metal cell could give it 500-600 miles between full charges.
This news comes as GM is in the midst of erecting a new Ultium battery factory in Lordstown, Ohio with its partner LG. The pair are also rumored to be planning another factory in the near future. LG Energy's participation in this next-generation cell was not mentioned by Reuss or in the official press release. That does not, however, mean they won't be involved in the eventual manufacturing.
General Motors has began investing in SolidEnergy back in 2015. No specific timeline was given for the introduction of the cells into production vehicles.
During the interview with Ignatius asked Reuss if he and CEO Mary Barra are betting the future of the company on electric vehicles. Reuss replied that automaking is a "long-lead capital business" and they're always bet the future.
He then elaborated on the point, mentioning that electric vehicles allow them to significantly cut development times and be more agile. He emphasized that they are betting the future on battery-electric vehicles and not plug-in hybrids. "That's the bet we have."