General Motors has announced it is working on car batteries that will make ranges greater than 500 miles possible. The company has partnered with SolidEnergy Systems to achieve this.
The announcement was made by the president of GM, Mark Reuss during a Washington Post Live conference. The battery will be lighter and cheaper to produce. This could have significant impact on the prices of electric vehicles as the battery is a major determinant of the sticker price.
GM had been working on the Ultium battery platform in collaboration with LG Chem. The upcoming electrified Hummer is going to be the first vehicle to use the platform and was initially announced to have a range of 350 miles. However, GM was able to tweak it to achieve 450 miles for other models using the same platform, especially as they would be lighter than the military styled vehicle.
GM is now looking beyond that with this new joint venture with SolidEnergy Systems. The new batteries will still use liquid electrolytes but will have double the energy density of existing battery tech, at 40% of the cost. Prototypes are expected by 2023.
This battery will allow GM produce more affordable entry models and drive electric vehicle adoption further. Even more expensive trims will benefit from the price cuts that are expected when the new batteries are ready.
“Affordability and range are two major barriers to mass EV adoption,” Reuss said. “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 revealed that work has already advanced as the new battery has already undergone many miles of simulated testing. They are also targeting ‘backward compatibility’ so that future models can be retrofitted with updated battery packs.
Six years ago, GM invested SolidEnergy System or SES, which is a startup that is focused on researching and developing Li-Metal batteries and battery management software. It is based in Singapore but has US based operations.
“Because of the high energy density of lithium metal, it delivers a significantly longer driving range than today’s EV batteries. Our Li-Metal batteries charge quickly, too — up to 80% of battery capacity in just 15 minutes,” said Qichao Hu, SES CEO. “Our technology makes these features available at an accessible price by enabling production using traditional lithium-ion manufacturing infrastructure. It’s very cost-effective and suited for large-scale production.”