GM has chosen to go all-in when it comes to electric vehicles and to support this ambitious plan they are basing all their new vehicles on the Ultium Battery Platform.
Taking a play out of Tesla’s vertical integration strategy, GM is trying to reduce costs, in-source engineering and create an EV platform that is sustainable for their future.
So, what is the GM Ultium Platform in reality?
The Ultium Platform in Detail
As you probably know, GM produces a huge range of vehicles across its huge swathe of brands. They have sedans of various sizes, SUVs, pickup trucks, larger trucks like the Hummer and more.
As a way of cutting costs, increasing efficiencies and allowing for flexibility to use the same system in all of these vehicles GM has developed the Ultium battery platform.
It is a third-generation global EV platform that is designed to be modular by using its own Ultium batteries and a range of drive units that vary by vehicle size and application.
And the interesting thing is that GM plans to have 19 different battery and drive unit configurations for their upcoming vehicles, which is hugely simplified when compared to the 550 engine configurations they have now!
Unlike Tesla, which has gone with cylindrical cells, the Ultium battery is a pouch-style battery that allows it to be placed horizontally with maximum efficiency, as well as stacked vertically when more capacity is needed. There are plans to have some packs with 12 pouches, and others that have two layers with 24, giving significantly more battery capacity and range.
The Ultium battery ranges from 50 to 200 kWh giving them the ability to create battery packs with a wide variety of ranges.
GM is planning for the future with the Ultium platform and will offer a range of charging options.
The very basic option is a standard Level 2 charge, which can be done at almost any charging location including homes and businesses. GM will also have DC fast charging with two main options:
- Vehicles with smaller packs will have 400-volt battery packs that offer up to 200 kW fast-charging
- The larger truck platform will offer 800-volt battery packs that deliver 350 kW fast-charging capability
Note: Currently Tesla offers 350kW charging at many of their new supercharger locations. Just to put these numbers in context.
Where Will Ultium Batteries Be Made?
The Ultium batteries will be made in a variety of locations within the USA.
LG Energy and GM have already started construction back in 2020 of a battery plant in Lordstown, Ohio. They also plan to build another Ultium battery plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee.
The GM Lansing factory also will build a Ultium battery cell plant, which is a joint venture between GM and LG Energy Solution. It is scheduled to start production sometime in 2024 with a final capacity of 50 GigaWatts. This will supply the Orion facility and others.
The GM Orion plant in Michigan will also get significant investments. This location will have a new battery pack assembly, amongst other things. And it will produce the Chevrolet Silverado EV and the electric GMC Sierra.
Factory ZERO will also play a role with electric vehicle assembly starting with the Hummer late last year, in 2021.