General Motors Co recently shared the details of its future strategy to grow the company’s electric vehicle (EV) sales quickly, efficiently and profitably at a gathering that was attended by hundreds of its employees, dealers, investors, analysts, media and policymakers.
Speaking at the event, Mary Barra, GM chairman and CEO said that the GM team accepted the challenge to transform product development and position the company for an all-electric future. The automotive manufacturer came up with a multi-brand, multi-segment EV strategy that offers economies of scale which could rival its full-size truck business while offering even more flexibility and less complexity.
The core of GM’s strategy is a modular propulsion system and a highly flexible, third- generation global EV platform that is powered by proprietary Ultium batteries. The system and the platform will make it possible for the company to compete for almost every customer in the market today, whether they are seeking a luxury experience, affordable transportation, work trucks or a high-performance machine.
GM President Mark Reuss said that thousands of GM scientists, engineers and designers are working on a historic reinvention of the company. He added that they are on the cusp of delivering a profitable EV business that can satisfy millions of customers.
Ultium Batteries and Propulsion System Highlights
• GM says its new Ultium batteries are unique as their large-format, pouch-style cells can be stacked either vertically or horizontally inside the battery pack. Thus, engineers can optimize battery energy storage and layout for the design of each vehicle.
• Ultium energy options range from 50 to 200 kWh, and this could enable a GM-estimated range up to 400 miles or more when the vehicle is fully charged along with quick acceleration from 0 to 60 mph acceleration in just 3 seconds. Motors GM makes in-house will support front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, all-wheel drive and performance all-wheel drive applications.
• Ultium-powered EVs are meant for Level 2 and DC fast charging. Most of them will have 400-volt battery packs and up to 200kW fast-charging capability while GM’s truck platform will have 800-volt battery packs and 350 kW fast-charging capability.
GM’s flexible, modular approach to EV development is expected to result in major economies of scale and thus create new revenue opportunities, including:
• Continuous Improvement in Battery Costs: GM’s joint venture with LG Chem will reduce battery cell costs to less than USD 100/kWh. The cells use a proprietary low cobalt chemistry and costs are expected to become even less with ongoing technological and manufacturing breakthroughs.
• Flexibility: GM’s all-new global platform is flexible enough to facilitate the building of a diverse range of trucks, SUVs, crossovers, cars and commercial vehicles. These vehicles will offer the benefits of outstanding design, performance, packaging, range and affordability.
• Capital Efficiency: GM plans to leverage existing property, including land, buildings, tools and production equipment such as body shops and paint shops in order to spend less capital to scale its EV business.
• Complexity Reduction: The vehicle and propulsion systems were designed together to minimize complexity and part counts beyond today’s EVs, which are less complex than conventional vehicles powered by internal combustion engines. For example, GM plans 19 different battery and drive unit configurations initially, compared with 550 internal combustion powertrain combinations available today.
• Rising Customer Acceptance: Third-party forecasters expect U.S. EV volumes to more than double from 2025 to 2030 to about 3 million units on average. GM believes volumes could be materially higher as more EVs are launched in popular segments, charging networks grow and the total cost of ownership to consumers continues to fall.
• New Sources of Revenue: The company hopes to reach beyond its own fleet and license technology to others by vertically integrating the manufacture of battery cells, th.
GM expects the first generation of vehicles made as part of its EV program to be profitable and the initial programs are expected to pave the way for further accretive growth. GM’s technology can be scaled to meet customer demand much higher than the more than 1 million global sales the company expects mid-decade.
Upcoming Launches and Reveals
The brands from GM which will be launching new EVs from this year include Chevrolet, Cadillac, GMC and Buick. The next EV from Chevrolet EV will be a new variant of the Bolt EV, and will make its debut in late 2020. This will be, followed by the 2022 Bolt EUV, that will be launched in the summer of 2021. The Bolt EUV is touted as the first non Cadillac model to feature Super Cruise, which GM says is the the industry’s first true hands-free driving technology for the highway. GM plans to expand the use of this technology to 22 vehicles by 2023, including 10 by next year.
The Cruise Origin which made its public debut in San Francisco in January 2020 is billed as a self-driving, electric shared vehicle. It was the first product that used GM’s third generation EV platform and Ultium batteries. Cadillac’s Lyriq luxury SUV will be launched in April while the Ultium-powered GMC HUMMER EV will be seen on the global stage in May 2020. Production is expected to begin in Fall 2021 at GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant, GM’s first assembly plant that will be dedicated fully to the production of EVs.
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