GM Lays It Out: Profitable EVs, Everywhere It Can Slot ’em

General Motors offered up a peak at its electric vehicle strategy in Warren, Michigan Wednesday, pulling the sheet back on a product plan that seeks quick profits as well as CO2 reduction.

Underpinning GM’s drive for domestic EV supremacy is a piece of modular architecture and a new battery type that should proliferate through divisions and segments in the coming years. The company claims these vehicles will not be the equivalent of the defunct, unloved Fiat 500e, a compliance vehicle that late Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne once warned consumers not to buy. Despite the EV game carrying steep costs and significant risk, GM’s not in the business of losing money if it can help it.

Oh, and that upcoming Cadillac crossover now has a name.

While we can’t give you a full rundown of future body styles and nameplates (it’s likely even GM brass aren’t exactly sure how far the company will take this), there is info to share on that. First, let’s look at the bones of these future models.

The platform is a third-generation modular unit, designed to underpin as many vehicles as possible and thus leverage economies of scale to pare down costs. Propulsion, part of which is a new proprietary battery design GM calls “Ultium,” aims for a minimum of complexity and maxed-out flexibility. The battery tech allows GM and its joint venture partner, LG Chem, to either stack the pouch-shaped cells or place them in line, allowing for a broad range of battery sizes and shapes.

Those cells are low in costly (and contentious) cobalt, and the automaker believes it can soon have them for less than $100 a kWh, helping drop sticker prices even further on the consumer end.

“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,” said CEO Mary Barra, adding that the platform/powertrain combo is capable of delivering everything from compacts to pickups.

This, of course, is partly what happens when you don’t score access to Rivian’s skateboard platform. That said, a single in-house platform that can find its way beneath enough vehicles is a better option. You’re then dependent only on yourself and your customers.

Battery capacity could range from 50 kWh for cheap, small EVs to 200 kWh for big, luxurious SUVs and trucks.

“Motors designed in-house will support front-wheel-drive, rear-wheel drive, all-wheel drive, and performance all-wheel-drive applications,” the automaker stated. “Ultium-powered EVs are designed for Level 2 and DC fast charging. Most will have 400-volt battery packs and up to 200kW fast-charging capability while our truck platform will have 800-volt battery packs and 350 kW fast-charging capability.”

The General has already teased its upcoming GMC Hummer electric pickup — a vehicle that appears to be as big as it is brash. The volume of electrons needed to move its bulk — and deliver the model’s promised performance — will be immense.

In describing the work of “thousands” of GM engineers, designers, and scientists, GM President Mark Reuss stated, “They are on the cusp of delivering a profitable EV business that can satisfy millions of customers.”

Moving forward, GM plans to utilize as many existing facilities and as much existing tooling as possible to streamline the effort, with revenue on the side collected by licensing its battery tech to other automakers.

As for actual product, here’s the gist: Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac, and GMC will all field EVs, with the first of the new crop arriving this year. GM claims a “new version” of the Chevrolet Bolt will arrive late this year, with the Bolt EUV — a small crossover — tagging along in the summer of 2021. That crossover will become the first non-Cadillac model to offer the automaker’s recently upgraded Super Cruise advanced driver-assist system.

By 2023, some 22 GM models will play host to the system.

While the new platform is destined for a slew of vehicles, one of those products won’t carry a driver. The Cruise Origin, a self-driving passenger pod built by GM’s autonomous division and revealed earlier this year, will carry both the platform and the new batteries.

Next month, GM pulls the wraps off its Lyriq SUV — the crossover-like vehicle first teased at last year’s Detroit auto show. Expect a reveal at the New York International Auto Show, assuming the rampaging coronavirus doesn’t see the show scrapped. A month after that — May 20th, to be exact — comes the public debut of the GMC Hummer EV, bound for production at Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly in the fall of 2021.

Suffice it to say a busy year lies ahead for GM.

a version of this article first appeared on TTAC

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