Mary Barra, General Motors Chairman, and CEO recently gave an update on the company’s plans for electric vehicles.
In a virtual conference for investors, Barra said that GM is committed to launching 30 EVs globally through 2025 and that 40% of its lineup here in the United States would be battery-electric powered by the same date. The twelve upcoming EVs were revealed back in July.
Barra said that GM will spend $27 billion over the next five years to fund the development of all of these EVs, as well as self-driving technology. This is $7 billion more than what the auto company previously planned.
Most of the future EVs will be powered by GM’s own batteries branded Ultium. The GMC Hummer EV and Cadillac Lyriq, which are due in late 2021 and early 2022, respectively will be the first vehicles to use Ultium batteries.
GM had made further advances to its Ultium batteries and estimates the biggest battery packs will deliver up to 450 miles of range, up from a previous estimate of 400 miles. The automaker wants to continue refining the technology and has already begun testing a second-generation design estimated to cost 60% less than today’s Ultium batteries with double the energy density and is due by the middle of the decade.
The lower cost of the second generation design is due to new cell designs that enable higher energy density and use less non-active material, making more room for the part of the battery that produces energy. Additionally, the cells use less expensive materials and eliminate the need for expensive cobalt found in batteries today. There is also better integration between vehicles and their battery packs which allows fewer cells and modules.
According to GM, Ultium batteries will be much easier to service at the module level which will lead to less expensive costs for repairs instead of having to replace the entire pack. The batteries are also flexible enough to accept new chemistry as well as new cell types, without doing major tweaks to the design.
Because of this flexibility, the development of many of GM’s future EVs can be accelerated. For example, starting with the upcoming GMC Hummer EV, GM’s benchmark development speed for a new EV is now 26 months instead of the standard 50 months.