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GM reveals next-gen lithium-metal battery cell prototype, announces new joint-venture

GM has revealed today the latest developments with its next-gen lithium-metal battery cell prototypes and announced a new joint-venture with SolidEnergy Systems.

During Washington Post’s Live virtual conference today, General Motors President Mark Reuss revealed more details about GM’s next-generation Ultium battery chemistry.

The automaker announced:

“GM’s lithium metal battery with a protected anode will feature a combination of 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.”

GM released a few pictures of those pouch battery cell prototypes:

Along with the new details on the battery cells, GM announced a joint development agreement with SolidEnergy System, a lithium metal battery company that GM invested in years ago:

“GM Ventures was an early investor six years ago in SES, a research, development and manufacturing leader of Li-Metal technology and AI-powered battery management software to optimize performance and safety. The 2015 investment was the start of a close working relationship between SES and General Motors’ research and development organization.”

More concretely, the new joint venture will result in a manufacturing prototyping line to be built in Woburn, Massachusetts, and they aim for it to lead to “a high-capacity, pre-production battery by 2023.”

Reuss commented on GMs next-gen Ultium battery chemistry:

“Affordability and range are two major barriers to mass EV adoption. 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.”

GM is touting higher energy density with the new cells, which could result in electric vehicles with longer range or more efficient EVs with smaller battery packs.

SES and GM’s collaboration on Li-Metal has already created a lot of intellectual property, including 49 patents granted and 45 patents pending.

While GM is already looking at the next generation Ultium batteries, the first vehicles using the current new battery technology and powertrain system are coming this year starting with the Hummer EV.

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