Deep Dive: Ultium Battery Technology

GM’s recent electrification plans are in high gear right now but the company has had over 25 years of experience with electric vehicles. In the mid-90’s, GM produced the EV1. An electric vehicle that was powered by lead-acid batteries and had a total range of 80 km. Then came the GMC Sierra & Yukon hybrids in the early 2010’s. GM’s first big push with electrification came with the Chevrolet Volt & Bolt. The Volt was a PHEV with up to 85 km of electric driving range. The Bolt EV is still in production and utilizes the latest lithium-ion battery technology. 

In the future, GM plans to phase out internal combustion engines and transition to an all-electric vehicle company. But while the road is long and challenging, it will start with the introduction of the next generation of lithium-ion battery technology called Ultium.


What is Ultium?

Ultium is GM’s next generation electric vehicle platform. It provides a flexible framework to create vehicles from coupes to SUVs and even trucks. The architecture eliminates significant constraints associated with adapting electric propulsion within a conventional vehicle chassis. The Ultium battery pack itself is a structural member of the vehicle which provides added rigidity to the vehicle. 

The Ultium battery consists of large-format, pouch-style cells that can be stacked vertically or horizontally. This optimizes the battery energy storage and layout for each vehicle. The battery pack can range in energy outputs from 50 to 200 kWh which could enable an estimated range of up to 644 km or more on a full charge. Furthermore, with 2 or 3 motor configurations, the 0-100 km/h acceleration time can be as little as 3 seconds as is demonstrated by the all-new 2022 GMC HUMMER EV.

Ultium powered vehicles are designed to be recharged from level 2 and level 3 charging stations. Most will have 400-Volt battery packs and up to 200 kW fast-charging capability. Others, like the GMC HUMMER EV, will have an 800-Volt battery pack and 350 kW fast-charging capability.


Future Applications

Thanks to the flexibility of Ultium batteries and the Ultium drive propulsion system, everything from compact electric cars to full-size electric pickup trucks can be created. The first of the next-generation Ultium powered vehicles is the aforementioned 2022 GMC HUMMER EV pickup truck. It will feature a two or three motor configuration along with an 800-Volt or 400-Volt (depending on trim level) battery pack. 

Following the HUMMER EV will be the 2022 Cadillac Lyriq. The mid-size crossover will have an estimated range of 480 km with level 3 charging of up to 150 kW & level 2 charging of up to 19.2 kW.

Later on, the SUV version of the GMC HUMMER EV will be released as a 2024 model. It will not be as powerful as the pickup truck version but it’ll still be quick with up to 830 hp and a 0-100 km/h time of 3.5 seconds. There is also a yet to be revealed Chevrolet Silverado EV pickup truck that will also utilize Ultium battery technology.

Eagle Ridge GM – Coquitlam, British Columbia

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