GM close to developing million-mile battery

It appears Tesla isn’t the only automaker at the forefront of battery technology.

After it was reported in May that Tesla and Chinese battery supplier CATL were readying a low-cost battery capable of lasting a million miles, Doug Parks, head of global product development and purchasing at General Motors, said in an interview with Reuters published Tuesday that GM was “almost there” on development of its own battery able to last a million miles.

According to Parks, GM is already developing more advanced batteries than the Ultium battery announced in March. And Tim Grewe, head of global electrification and battery systems at GM, told Green Car Reports in an interview published Wednesday that GM is laying the groundwork for batteries that will easily deliver 500-600 miles of range.

The upcoming Ultium battery, which was developed with South Korea’s LG Chem and due to be sourced from a plant in Lordstown, Ohio, operated by Ultium Cells, a joint venture between GM and LG Chem, will be able to deliver up to 400 miles of range. The battery will first appear in the Cadillac Lyriq and GMC Hummer EV both due in 2021.

Artist's impression of Ultium Cells' battery plant in Lordstown, Ohio

Artist’s impression of Ultium Cells’ battery plant in Lordstown, Ohio

Ultium Cells will also supply batteries for two electric cars from Honda. The new Honda models are being developed in partnership with GM which is supplying its BEV3 modular EV platform. GM will also build the vehicles, while Honda will be responsible for the interior and exterior designs and driving characteristics.

To reduce the cost of batteries, Parks in his interview with Reuters said GM was developing battery cells with reduced cobalt and even some zero-cobalt designs. Cobalt is the most expensive material used in existing battery cells.

GM has said the Ultium battery will likely have cells priced below the $ 100 per kilowatt-hour mark, also due to a reduced reliance on cobalt. Driving the price down further means automakers will be able to build EVs at roughly the same price as internal-combustion models.

Reducing the price of batteries is key to GM’s goal of delivering a million EVs per year by as early as 2025.

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