General Motors continued its charge to develop better batteries, announcing its partnership with lithium metal battery startup SolidEnergy Systems.
The company, also known as SES, is working on technology that would reduce the size of EV batteries while increasing driving range of the vehicle they’re used in. GM officials have long discussed the need to reduce battery costs, another factor in the production of electrified vehicles is weight.
Batteries are heavy and developing and using a smaller battery equates to weight savings, helping to further expand the improved range afforded by the batteries SES and GM are working to create.
Lighter, farther, cheaper
GM says its lithium metal battery with a protected anode offers the Big Three of EVs: affordability, high performance and energy density. The initial prototype batteries have already completed 150,000 simulated test miles at research and development labs at GM’s Global Technical Center in Warren, Michigan, demonstrating real-world potential, the company revealed.
The automaker isn’t just working with SES to bring lithium-metal batteries to fruition, but several other companies as well. However, it does have a history with SES, investing in the company six years ago through its GM Ventures arm.
This new deal is the next step in that collaboration, and as part of that progression, GM and SES plan to build a manufacturing prototyping line in Woburn, Massachusetts, for a high-capacity, pre-production battery by 2023.
Results mean EVs for all
“Affordability and range are two major barriers to mass EV adoption,” said GM President Mark Reuss.
“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.”
The goal is to incorporate these smaller, more powerful and less expensive batteries as part of the Ultium Platform that will be the basis for a slew of new EVs coming from the auto company. The first of those, the GMC Hummer hits the road this year.
GM is working to complete its $2.3 billion plant to build the Ultium batteries in partnership with South Korea’s LG Chem. The pair is setting up shop in Lordstown, Ohio. Officials recently revealed two more plants could be in the works. The first would be near GM’s plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee.
The company is investing $2 billion at that facility to prepare it to produce Cadillac’s first-ever all-electric model, the Lyriq. GM is investing $27 billion in electric and autonomous vehicles with plans to have 30 EV models available around the world by the end of 2025. The company declared it would end production of gas- and diesel-powered vehicles by 2035.