Last year, General Motors revealed it was already working on the second-generation of its Ultium modular battery system, despite the fact that the first vehicles with Ultium batteries have yet to officially enter production.
Now, the American automaker has revealed even more information on the next-gen Ultium batteries. During GM’s CES 2021 keynote presentation video, titled “Inflection Point: Putting Everybody in an EV,” GM Technical Fellow and Lab Group Manager, Mei Cai, stated that the next-generation Ultium batteries will provide a maximum driving range of 500 to 600 miles.
By comparison, the first-generation Ultium batteries are predicted to provide a maximum driving range of 400-450 miles in certain vehicles. Range won’t be the only advantage the second-gen batteries have over the current ones. As GM’s Vice President of Global Product Development, Doug Parks, explained last year, the new batteries will also be much more cost-effective, providing a 60 percent cost improvement over the battery found in the Chevrolet Bolt EV, while also being twice as energy-dense.
“This is big stuff,” Parks said. “For this and many other reasons, we expect to be on the leading edge of performance and cost compared to anyone and everyone else in the EV space.”
GM’s battery cell manufacturing joint venture partnership with LG Chem, Ultium Cells LLC, will compound with the second-generation battery advancements to put GM in an even more competitive position with regard to its EV technology. By manufacturing its battery cells in-house and splitting the cost with an established battery manufacturer like LG Chem, GM expects to have a dominant position with regard to EVs.
“Our manufacturing approach also affects the cost curve,” Parks said last year. “It’s a complex and developing manufacturing process and having a strong joint venture like we do with LG is the way to win. Manufacturing and joint ventures allow us to excel in operating equipment efficiency, first time quality and waste recycling.”
It’s not clear what the first vehicle to feature the improved second-generation Ultium battery cells will be, however GM expects the new design to enter production by mid-decade.