General Motors just unveiled its new Ultium battery technology, which promises to propel the automaker towards its stated goal of an all-electric future. The new battery tech will see application in a range of forthcoming all-electric vehicles, with as many as 19 unique battery and drive unit combinations planned at the outset.
At first glance, the 19 unique combos slated for the Ultium batteries may seem like a lot – until, that is, one considers the hundreds of internal combustion engine combos currently on offer.
“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,” GM states in a press release. “For example, GM plans 19 different battery and drive unit configurations initially, compared with 550 internal combustion powertrain combinations available today.”
The various combinations will support FWD, RWD, and AWD drive types, with output ranging between 235 horsepower and 1,000 horsepower.
With GM ramping up its EV efforts, the flexibility of its various EV components, including the new Ultium batteries and GM’s various EV-centric platforms, is critical. While development costs for these technologies are high, their flexibility and reduced complexity translate into low production costs in the future, as well as a more responsive approach to market demands.
“Our offering won’t be just one ticket,” said GM President Mark Reuss at the recent GM Capital Markets Day event, in reference to GM’s EV strategy. “This is architected to be scalable and used for multiple brands, for multiple variants and for multiple customers.
“So when the market demands those variants, where can our competitors go? We can go to variant X, Y, or Z quickly,” Reuss added. “We’ll be introducing multiple models a year, be as market responsive as we want to be and as the market dictates.”
Indeed, complexity reduction has been a major focus for GM as of late, even beyond the Ultium battery technology and new EV efforts. As we covered previously, the automaker managed to reduce the number of parts used in production by 12 percent last year, and has plans on reducing parts usage a further 25 percent in 2020, providing even more cost savings.