Last week, GM Authority covered recent reports that GM was considering the development of new cylindrical battery cells for use in future GM EVs, as compared to the pouch-style battery cells currently produced in North America. Now, however, GM CEO Mary Barra has indicated that GM already uses cylindrical battery cells for EVs sold in China.
According to CNBC, Barra recently discussed GM’s battery production plans. Although the CEO declined to comment on reports that GM was considering the development of new cylindrical battery cells, Barra did state that cylinder batteries are equipped by GM’s Chinese-spec EVs, including the Cadillac Lyriq.
Although these cylindrical batteries carry the GM Ultium battery branding, the technology differs from the pouch-style batteries produced in the U.S. The Chinese-market batteries use NMC battery chemistry, with cells produced by CATL, as compared to GM-LG Energy Solution joint venture running Ultium Cells in North America.
Some of the advantages of a cylindrical battery design over a pouch-style battery are reduced costs and more streamlined production, both of which would greatly benefit GM as it moves to ramp up EV production this year. Rival EV producer Tesla already uses cylindrical batteries, specifically 4680 cells. Stellantis, BMW, and Volvo are also reportedly poised to use cylindrical battery design in future EV models.
Last October, Barra pushed back GM’s goal to produce 400,000 EVs in North America by six months, moving the target from the 2023 calendar year to the 2024 calendar year. The delay was attributed to a “slightly slower launch” of battery and cell production.
GM and LG Energy Solution, under the joint venture Ultium Cells LLC, presently have three U.S. battery facilities in place, one of which is already in operation in Ohio, with two additional facilities under construction in Tennessee and Michigan. Talks between LG Energy and GM regarding a fourth facility in Indiana reportedly ended without an agreement between the two companies, although GM is reportedly talking to at least one other battery supplier in hopes of moving forward on the Indiana facility.