General Motors revealed the next step in its ambitious electric-vehicle onslaught on Wednesday, with new battery tech and a smattering of new or updated models announced.
Every GM brand got in on the action, with Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, and GMC all taking part. The plan calls for a massive expansion of the companies’ all-electric portfolios, while also improving their efficiency and profitability. “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 GM CEO Mary Barra.
The core of the plan is GM’s BEV3 modular vehicle platform, and its proprietary Ultium battery technology. General Motors worked with LG Chem to produce the unique batteries. Ultium features large-format, pouch-style cells, allowing for either horizontal or vertical stacking within the battery pack. This lets engineers tailor the layout to the specific needs of each vehicle.
Thanks to this scalable nature, Ultium-powered vehicles will feature anywhere from 50 to 200 kWh. By General Motors’ estimates that will translate to up to 400 miles of range, with 0–60 mph runs in as little as three seconds. Ultium supports Level 2 and DC fast charging: cars and crossovers will feature 400-volt battery packs and 200 kW charging capability, whereas trucks will double the volts and hit 350 kW charging. GM is also promising 100 miles of additional charge in as little as 10 minutes.
The unique packaging freedom of electric vehicles means BEV3 can support front-, rear- and all-wheel drive models.
We’ve already had a taste of Ultium too. The GMC Hummer showed up at the Super Bowl, with its full reveal set for May before production begins late 2021. It features a three-motor setup — two out back, one up front — and a big 1,000 hp rating.
Cadillac will be next up to bat, with the Lyriq luxury SUV debuting next month. From the initial teaser, it looks long and low, more like the original SRX than the later one (now known as the XT5). The interior will feature a 34-inch curved display just like the one in the new 2021 Escalade. Speaking of which, the big SUV will get its own electric variant before 2025.
After the Lyriq comes a much larger sedan, called the Celestiq. According to Car and Driver, this flagship model will be hand-built and take Cadillac much further upmarket than it’s been in decades. Prices should comfortably exceed the six-digit mark.
Chevrolet won’t miss out on the action either. A new version of the Bolt EV will arrive first, with a launch happening later this year. The oft-rumored 2022 Bolt EUV will follow in summer of next year. This jacked-up crossover will add an affordable EV utility vehicle to Chevy’s lineup. It will also be the first non-Cadillac to feature Super Cruise. GM plans on the hands-free driving tech to expand to 22 vehicles by 2023.
A pair of Buick EVs is also on the way, as GM plans for 20 Ultium models over the next three years. The times, they say, are a changin’.