GM's Ambitious EV Plans Should Scare Tesla

Electric Car / Comments

GM has revealed some of its future EV plans to the media, and they're ambitious.

At a gathering of media, investors, and dealers on Wednesday, General Motors unveiled its aggressive plans to launch full-force into the electric vehicle space - the beginnings of a company-wide pivot that President Mark Reuss calls "an historic reinvention of the company."

Wednesday's revelations largely revolved around a dedicated third-generation global electric vehicle platform that GM touts as highly flexible and scalable, suitable for a range of products from cars to trucks, to SUVs, to crossovers, to commercial vehicles. That platform, along with an equally modular propulsion system and a new proprietary battery pack technology dubbed "Ultium", will underpin GM's next generation of electric vehicles.

General Motors

GM's new Ultium battery pack architecture, developed in cooperation with LG Chem, is targeting a cost-per-unit-energy below $100 per kWh, which is the point at which EVs should achieve price parity with gasoline cars, according to many analysts. The cells of this architecture are unique partly in that they use a special low-cobalt chemistry. Cobalt is expensive, keeping lithium-ion battery prices elevated, and the metal is often mined in conditions that raise human rights concerns.

But the Ultium battery pack architecture is also unique in how the large, pouch-style cells can be stacked vertically or horizontally, enabling GM to package each battery pack specially for its intended vehicle while still leveraging economies of scale.

Ultium battery packs could range in capacity from 50 to 200 kWh, GM says, depending on the application, enabling up to 400 miles or more of total range and 0-to-60-mph acceleration to the tune of 3 seconds.

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GM will start bringing out an onslaught of new electric vehicles this year, including a new second-generation Chevrolet Bolt EV scheduled to launch in late-2020, and a Bolt EUV - or "Electric Utility Vehicle" - launching in the summer of 2021 as a 2022 model. The Bolt EUV will be the first non-Cadillac vehicle to feature GM's Super Cruise semi-autonomous cruising system, which will later be expanded to 22 vehicles by 2023.

Further up-market, the Cadillac Lyriq - a pure-electric luxury utility vehicle - will debut in April, followed by the reveal of the GMC Hummer EV on May 20th. Production of that vehicle at GM's Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant will start in the fall of next year.

"Our team accepted the challenge to transform product development at GM and position our company for an all-electric future," GM CEO Mary Barra says. "What we have done is build a multi-brand, multi-segment EV strategy with economies of scale that rival our full-size truck business with much less complexity and even more flexibility."

When it comes to supremacy of the EV space, Tesla Motors will likely have to watch its back for GM.

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