If you have been keeping an eye on the auto industry as of late, you are no doubt aware of the accelerating creep of electrification. With countries in Europe (and California) outright banning the sale of ICE-powered vehicles in the coming decades, EVs’ place in the market has been solidified by bureaucracy. General Motors aren’t keen on being left behind in the electric age, and just last week committed to spending an insane $27 billion on EV development by just 2025. And while that announcement is newsworthy in itself, GM also hinted at their efforts to create game-changing batteries: ones with a metallic lithium anode.
This bombshell came from GM Executive Vice President Doug Parks, who spoke alongside CEO Mary Barra at last week’s Barclays Automotive Conference. Parks was specifically speaking about the next-gen variation of the Ultium Battery pack, which is slated to arrive mid-decade. According to the executive, the battery pack will feature a metallic lithium anode, and should be able to achieve up to 450 miles of range per charge.
Engineers and scientists have been trying to perfect metallic lithium batteries for decades now, due to the huge amount of energy potential they possess. That said, these efforts have been in vain up until this point as a result of some nasty complications. Metallic lithium has a tendency to light on fire and create massive power surges, which isn’t exactly ideal for a battery. This is especially the case when you are dealing with a battery-powered object capable of smashing into things with tremendous force. However, GM believes they are well on their way to solving this issue. In fact, they’ve already been able to achieve 500 charge-and-discharge cycles using the next-gen Ultium pack. This figure isn’t up to production standards yet, but it is well on its way.
The implications for this battery tech are huge. General Motors has plans for as many as 30 new EVs globally by 2025, some of which should arrive with this new battery pack. No automaker has been able to achieve range figures like that with an EV thus far, and the new Ultium system could propel GM to the top of the EV segment. Perhaps the challenge of bringing this tech to market is part of the reason Barra has committed half of GM’s capital expenditures towards EV development.
During the Barclays Automotive Conference, both General Motors executives made it clear that the company does not plan to let new players dominate the EV segment. The company is refusing to cede their position in the automotive landscape to the likes of Tesla, and is clearly willing to invest heavily in order to do so. If GM is truly able to harness a metallic lithium battery, they certainly won’t be going anywhere soon.