General Motors just announced a standard feature for its EVs that ride on the company's proprietary Ultium-based architecture. While not specifically called a heat pump in the press release, the special feature – coined "Ultium Energy Recovery" – will capture energy from the battery that may otherwise be wasted. The system then uses it to increase range, charging speed, and acceleration.

GM explains that, as expected, batteries and related parts produce heat. The system can store the excess heat to use when needed. For example, if the stored heat is used to keep the cabin warm, the vehicle will use less energy for its HVAC system, which means more energy for the vehicle itself. The company goes so far as to say that the new Ultium system can even capture outside humidity, as well as the body heat produced by passengers.

GM executive vice president for Global Product Development, Purchasing, and Supply Chain Doug Parks shared in the press release:

“Having a ground-up EV architecture gives us the freedom to build in standard features like Ultium’s energy recovery capabilities. This helps us squeeze more efficiency, performance and overall customer benefit out of our EVs.”

In short, GM's energy recovery system reduces the overall need for the car's battery pack to provide power for heating and various vehicle functions. The automaker says the system can add up to 10 percent more range to its electric vehicles. Range benefits will likely be more obvious in cold temps, since the EVs won't have to work as hard due to less energy wasted.

The press release explains that the Ultium energy recovery system should allow GM to get more range and better performance out of its battery packs than similarly sized packs from competing automakers that aren't employing heat pumps or comparable technology. Moreover, Ultium vehicles with the standard feature have the potential to charge more quickly via battery preconditioning.

The GMC Hummer EV's impressive "Watt to Freedom (WTF)" feature is actually made possible by the Ultium energy recovery system. GM says it "precools the propulsion system" to ready it for maximum output.

Interestingly, GM notes that the origin of the energy recovery feature can be traced all the way back to the company's EV1, which was its first electric car. The EV1 used a heat pump that was developed by GM engineers at the time. The automaker says the feature is available on all current Ultium EVs, and will also be standard in all upcoming Ultium models.

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