GM Needs Range, Battery Cost Cuts to Speed EV Plans

Ken Zino of AutoInformed.com on joint development agreement between GM and lithium metal battery firm SolidEnergy Systems

GM’s next-generation lithium metal batteries could enable higher range in a similarly sized pack or comparable range in a smaller pack.

General Motors President Mark Reuss announced a joint development agreement with lithium metal battery firm SolidEnergy Systems (sic) or SES. To accelerate Li-Metal battery commercialization, GM is working with several companies and making investments that will allow it to scale up to production quickly. GM’s lithium metal battery with a protected anode will have a combination of affordability, high performance and energy density, it’s claimed. The initial prototype batteries have completed 150,000 simulated test miles at research and development labs at GM’s Global Technical Center in Warren, Michigan. This GM claims demonstrates real-world potential.

“Affordability and range are two major barriers to mass EV adoption,” said Reuss. “With this next-generation Ultium chemistry, we believe we’re on the cusp of a once-in-a-generation improvement in energy density and cost. There’s even more room to improve in both categories, and we intend to innovate faster than any other company in this space.”  Reuss was speaking one year after the reveal of the first-generation Ultium Platform.

The forecast battery energy density increase could enable greater range in a similarly sized pack or comparable range in a smaller pack. The weight and space savings from smaller battery packs could help with vehicle mass or create more room for additional technology. (Environmental About Face – General Motors Ditching Internal Combustion Engines by 2035. Carbon Neutral by 2040?)

 Part of the basis of GM and SES’ collaboration on Li-Metal prototype batteries is GM’s lithium metal battery experience. The company’s expertise in this field has resulted in 49 patents granted and 45 patents pending. SES will also bring its own lithium metal intellectual property to the collaboration. However, intellectual property is one thing, successful series production vehicles is another matter entirely. The first Ultium-based products are expected to go on sale later this year.

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