Earlier last week, GM held a conference call with members of the media to discuss its latest electric vehicle development progress, including the new GM Ultium batteries. However, the automaker is currently unsure how much the critical battery tech will cost.
The recent conference call was led by GM’s director of global electrification and battery systems, Tim Grewe. We asked Grewe if he could provide a more exact cost figure on the new GM Utlium batteries, citing previous indications that the figure would be kept below $100 per kWh.
Although Grewe was unable to give a more exact answer, he stated that he “was [not] trying to be evasive,” but rather, General Motors was aiming for a “continuous ramp-down in costs.”
With that in mind, its unclear where exactly the pricing for the GM Ultium batteries will end up. “We don’t actually know how low it can go,” Grewe stated, adding “we don’t know what the bottom of the cost curve is.”
“What I can tell you is that GM will have the lowest cost, best performing, and best solution from a battery standpoint,” Grewe said.
The GM Ultium batteries will be manufactured via Ultium Cells LLC, a joint venture between General Motors and South Korean multinational electronics company, LG. Assembly will take place at a brand-new plant in Lordstown, Ohio.
The automaker is aiming at making the GM Ultium batteries cost structure “significantly lower every year.” For example, Ulitum batteries will use 70 percent less cobalt, which is a significant reduction compared to the batteries used in the current Chevrolet Bolt EV. The GM Ultium batteries will also use 50 percent fewer connections between the back and enclosure, and 80 percent fewer connections inside the cell module assemblies.
Grewe added that the cell material is the dominant cost factor, and that GM is focused on driving those costs down. One of the ways it’s doing that is by integrating the battery pack into the actual vehicle structure, thereby eliminating waste by creating a more wholistic production process.
GMs’ future EV and AV portfolios continues to progress at a rapid pace, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. The Cruise Origin autonomous taxi was revealed in San Francisco earlier this year, and production timing remains on track for the yet-to-be-revealed Cadillac Lyriq and GMC Hummer EV. All three products will utilize GM Ultium batteries.