GM Reveals Electric Car Battery That Could Be A Game-Changer

The push to electrify our roads have been held back in no small part by the progress of battery technology, or lack thereof. General Motors has revealed their new Ultium battery and, from what the manufacturer claims, it sounds like finally there is a battery that could make our electric dreams come true. Already it is being dubbed the “Tesla killer”, with the ability to power a vehicle as far as 400 miles on a charge.

Compared to Tesla’s 390-mile range, a 10-mile difference may not sound like a lot and it is not. Rather, it is the promise that Ultium can lower costs, extend the sustainability of battery production and offer flexibility in battery cell arrangement that could have Tesla running back to the drawing board.

Cobalt, a vital component in EV batteries, is an expensive mineral with limited availability and have often been called out for suspicious mining practices. GM has somehow reduced the cobalt content of their batteries by around 70%, substituting it with aluminium, which is cheaper and easier to get. This, and improving their manufacturing process, will contribute to lowering the cost of the battery. Industry experts often cite battery cost of US$100/kwH as the mark whereby electric vehicles can be made affordable and have a real fighting chance to conquer the road. GM believes that they will be able to achieve that with the Ultium.

The Ultium battery cells are contained in soft packs—ie. a polymer instead of metal shell—making them less rigid under strain and less likely to crack. The use of the lighter material shaves off battery weight, the bane of any EV car designer, by as much as 40%. What’s more, these packs can be stacked up vertically instead of the usual horizontal rows, giving the car designer more elbow room to determine the shape of the battery pack.

With plans to license this new battery tech to other automakers, the underpinnings of future electric cars could just come from GM and not Tesla, as we might have thought. GM vs Tesla…It’s on.

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