At the heart of our EV investments—and the literal heart of most GM EVs themselves—are lithium-ion batteries that store the energy that powers our plug-in hybrids and EVs. Battery size, cost and charging capabilities remain important focus areas for our R&D efforts. By improving battery technology, we can increase affordability and acceptance of EVs, an essential part of a zero-emissions future.
With this goal in mind, GM and Honda recently announced a collaboration on next-generation battery technologies, combining our scale and efficiencies in global manufacturing. Under this agreement, Honda will source battery cells and modules from GM, creating scale and manufacturing efficiencies. The next-generation battery will deliver higher energy density, smaller packaging and faster charging capabilities for both companies’ future products, mainly for the North American market. This partnership accelerates both GM’s and Honda’s plans to get powerful EVs in front of customers and builds upon our joint venture to produce an advanced hydrogen fuel cell system in the 2020 timeframe.
Also in 2018, we announced major enhancements to the battery lab at our Global Technical Center in Warren, Michigan. Opened in 2009, this battery lab helped bring the Chevrolet Volt, Spark EV and Bolt EV to life. A $28 million expansion allows us to complete nearly all battery testing under one roof, reducing development time and cost. The lab, already one of the largest in the world, includes new heavy and mild battery abuse test areas, test chambers and advanced equipment to accelerate our next-generation battery architecture.
Acting on our vision of a zero emissions future, GM’s strategy is firmly focused on expanding its EV portfolio over the next decade.
Cadillac will be GM’s lead electric vehicle brand and will introduce the first model from the company’s all-new EV architecture. This architecture will be the foundation for an advanced family of profitable EVs, including an array of body styles and front-wheel, rear-wheel and all-wheel configurations. The output of vehicles’ battery systems will be adjustable based on vehicle and customer needs, all with a relatively short design and development lead time.
To support these commitments, we are ramping up production of EVs in the United States. We have announced a production increase for the Bolt EV, with a new LG Electronics facility in Hazel Park, Michigan, making battery packs to supply our Orion Assembly Plant.
GM will also invest $300 million in our Orion Township, Michigan assembly plant to produce an all-new EV from Chevrolet. The new EV was originally slated for production outside the U.S., but we decided to bring it to Orion due to the facility’s experience with the Bolt EV. The new vehicle will be designed, engineered and manufactured based on an advanced version of the Bolt EV architecture. The decision also supports the rules of origin provisions in the proposed United States, Mexico and Canada Agreement. The investment will bring 400 new jobs to the Orion facility.
A key market in GM’s global strategy for an all-electric future is China, where demand for EVs is high and government policies encourage rapid adoption. In 2018, we revealed the Baojun E200. China is the world’s largest EV market, boasting half of the world’s public EV charging infrastructure as of the end of 2018. Our growing sales and portfolio in China will further enable us to introduce new vehicles and scale EV adoption globally.
When the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed to amend the U.S.’s Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) and greenhouse gas (GHG) standards, GM took the opportunity to weigh in. We believe that a single, 50-state solution is the most effective way to move the U.S. to a leadership position in electrification.
That’s why we’ve called for a National Zero Emission Vehicle (NZEV) program based on existing ZEV programs that would establish requirements for automakers to incorporate ZEVs as an increasing part of their portfolios, up to 25 percent by 2030. It would also establish a Zero Emissions Task Force to promote complementary policies, such as charging infrastructure investments, renewed federal incentives for EV purchasing,and regulatory incentives to support U.S. battery suppliers.
This program could place more than 7 million long-range EVs on the road by 2030, while reducing CO2 emissions by 375 million tons between 2021 and 2030. It would also encourage American innovation and preserve our industrial strength while making EVs more affordable.
The stakes are high, and time is short. Governments and industries in Asia and Europe are working together to shift to an all-electric future, and we believe that the U.S. has a similar opportunity to lead.
Shifting to zero-emissions vehicles will not only protect the environment—it will also strengthen American manufacturing and allow us to remain competitive. EVs will help support:
The Bolt EV is assembled in the U.S., with suppliers of Bolt EV components and systems in 16 states.
China spent more than 25 times more on vehicle electrification than the U.S. over a five-year period. Without new U.S. policy and R&D investment, the majority of EV batteries and vehicles will be built overseas.
EVs can help reduce dependence on a single source of energy, which would ensure uninterrupted logistics in the event of an energy shortage or embargo.
Infrastructure projects are needed to prepare the grid and roads for an electric future. Such projects would create jobs and be an economic catalyst for the nation, while increasing visibility of EVs.
*As of April 1, 2019
Inclusive of Express Drive
We continue to leverage the Chevrolet Bolt EV in our Maven Gig program exposing more drivers and potential customers to electric vehicles. We also support public education and awareness movements, such as the “Electric for All” campaign through our partnership with Veloz in California and the “Drive Change. Drive Electric.” awareness campaign in the Northeast.
Chevrolet Mexico found a creative opportunity to educate drivers about the benefits of driving gas-free when a gasoline shortage struck major Mexican cities in late 2018. A Bolt EV traveled between gas stations in Mexico City, reporting current fuel levels to followers on social media. Hundreds of affected people used GM’s hashtags to request status reports, and thousands interacted with the content. The campaign not only drew the attention of those following along online; it caught the interest of others waiting in line for gas or diesel at local stations, who began asking questions about the Bolt EV’s range and other features. Alternative fuel vehicles made up just 1 percent of new vehicle sales in Mexico in 2018. If fuel shortages and other factors like rising gas prices persist, these vehicles may become an increasingly commonsense choice.
GM and Consumers Energy, Michigan’s largest energy provider, recently launched a pilot program to test smart charging for EVs. Participants in the program will be able to plug in their EVs at home and delay charging until overnight hours. Consumers Energy will offer rates specifically for EV owners to encourage charging in off-peak hours, when electricity demand is lower.
The utility is also developing a three-year, $7.5 million effort to encourage the development of EV charging stations across Michigan. That would include rebates for charging stations in people’s homes, at their workplaces and along major thoroughfares. We’re proud to have a partner who is as committed as we are to promotion of EVs in Michigan and beyond.
In a related effort, GM is working with Honda, as well as the Mobility Open Blockchain Initiative (MOBI) and other partners, to explore the use of blockchain to track power supply in electric vehicles and smart grids. Large numbers of EVs connected to urban grids are a potential way to store excess power during demand fluctuations. Blockchain technology could help determine the most efficient exchange of energy, and this arrangement could someday be a revenue stream for EV owners.
These are a few of the latest examples of how GM is working with the electric utility industry, EV charging service providers and EV-related state and local stakeholders to help build an EV charging infrastructure. As a result of these types of joint efforts, electric utilities have received more than $1 billion in EV-related investments with more expected support to come, and 42 states have committed to investing in EV infrastructure.
We’re also leading by example. In the U.S. and Canada, General Motors has more than 700 workplace chargers at 49 of its sites. Solar charging canopies have been installed at nine sites so employees can use renewable energy to charge their EVs while at work, and we encourage other companies to provide workplace charging.
The technology inside a GM vehicle is beginning to look less and less like that of vehicles past—and more like the inside of your smartphone or laptop. Cars are becoming high-powered computers on wheels as they incorporate next-generation battery-electric technology, as well as active safety, autonomous, infotainment and connectivity features. These advancements require greater bandwidth and computing power. This is why GM has introduced an all-new electrical platform, or operating system, consisting of software and hardware designed to power the next generation of vehicles, enabling all advanced in-vehicle technologies to run seamlessly and in conjunction with each other.
Debuting on the 2020 Cadillac CT5 sedan, the electronic platform will go into production in 2019 and should be rolled out to most vehicles within GM’s global lineup by 2023. The platform is not a new feature in itself, but rather the framework that will enable a host of current and planned vehicle features. It is capable of managing up to 4.5 terabytes of data processing power per hour, a fivefold increase in capability over GM’s current electrical architecture.
Increased technology demands increased attention to security. Cybersecurity is a pillar of the new architecture, with added protective features at both the hardware and software levels. GM’s Product Cybersecurity organization, one of the first such groups among major automakers, provides the necessary expertise to protect against unauthorized access to vehicles and customer data.
Advanced connectivity within vehicles also means that owners will be able to increase the functionality of their cars, trucks, SUVs and crossovers over time. With an expanded capacity for smartphone-like over-the-air software updates, the system allows for upgrades throughout the lifespan of the vehicle. This means that owners will not only be able to access the best of what’s available today—they can continually stay on the cutting edge of safety, efficiency and mobility innovations yet to be invented.
What if charging an EV was even easier than filling a car up with gas? A new partnership between GM and three leading EV charging networks in the U.S.—EVgo, ChargePoint and Greenlots—could begin to make that possible.
GM will aggregate data from each of the three networks and share it with Bolt EV customers using the myChevrolet app. Drivers can use the app to locate nearby charging stations and find out if a station is working, available and compatible with the Bolt EV. GM also expects to make enrollment for charging with these networks easier by creating an app interface for all three networks to streamline charger access and potentially allow activation of a charging session using the app instead of a membership card.
The myChevrolet app was recently updated to allow Bolt EV drivers to access certain features through their vehicle’s infotainment system, such as vehicle range, charging station locations and search. It includes route planning that takes into consideration charging stops along the way if the destination is out of range.
We are also partnering with the U.S. Department of Energy to address demand for fast charging. Soon, we will release a prototype EV capable of 180-mile range with less than a 10-minute charge. The experimental EV will be delivered to Delta Electronics for official testing and could pave the way for future fast chargers that are smaller, lighter and more efficient than existing models, making travel even more seamless.
We advocate for expanding state and federal tax credit programs so more consumers are encouraged to go electric. Incentives in states such as New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Colorado and California can help tip the balance in favor of EVs. For regions with high traffic congestion, such as Atlanta and Los Angeles, establishing carpool or HOV lane access for EVs has proven to be effective in bringing them to the top of consumers’ minds.
As GM makes progress toward an all-electric future, we are also optimizing our vehicle lineup of today. We are doing so through a strategy that emphasizes Efficient Fundamentals, continual improvements that are making our conventional vehicles lighter and more fuel-efficient. For example, the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 is now equipped with Dynamic Fuel Management, which means that the engine will operate more often with a reduced number of cylinders, saving fuel across the board. This industry-first cylinder deactivation technology enables the 5.3- and 6.2-liter V-8s to operate in 17 different cylinder patterns to optimize power delivery and efficiency.
Chevrolet first introduced its Active Fuel Management cylinder deactivation system in 2005, and Dynamic Fuel Management (DFM) is a natural progression of that technology. During an industry-standard test schedule, the 2019 Silverado 2WD with the 5.3-liter V-8 and DFM operated with fewer than eight active cylinders more than 60 percent of the time. The engines also feature driver-selectable stop/start technology that helps save fuel in stop-and-go traffic. In early 2019, GM announced plans to invest $22 million at our Spring Hill, Tennessee, manufacturing complex to enable the engine plant to build 6.2-liter V-8 engines equipped with DFM. The investment will enable us to extend this efficiency-boosting technology to more GM vehicles.
We are also reducing emissions by decreasing vehicle weight. Take the all-new 2019 GMC Sierra Denali, which replaced standard steel inner panels and floor with a lightweight, purpose-designed carbon fiber composite that offers best-in-class dent, scratch and corrosion resistance. The new material is 62 pounds lighter than the steel version. Our approach also incorporates aluminum for the doors, hood and tailgate, while relying on steel for the fenders, roof and standard cargo box to shave up to 370 pounds from the prior model.
As we drive toward an all-electric future, we must continue to meet emissions requirements for all vehicle types while balancing profitability and compliance risk. GM senior leadership recently supported a series of operating excellence projects to help manage this risk.
In seven months, teams developed changes that could improve fuel economy for more than 90 percent of GM’s North American fleet. Improvements included reduced vehicle rolling resistance, increased propulsion and electrical efficiency, while ensuring the capture of off-cycle credits across programs. Employees also created new tools to communicate the financial cost of noncompliance to program teams for easier and earlier optimization.
“Putting our customers first while simultaneously meeting our corporate objectives—in this case, GHG emissions—at the lowest possible cost is a huge challenge,” says Dean Guard, Executive Director, GM Global CO2 Strategy and Energy Center. “It requires an incredible team effort and commitment from each team member, not to mention a solid accounting system that keeps our progress visible and helps keep the team on track.”
The Sierra Denali 1500 and the Sierra AT4 1500 large pickups are built to withstand heavy-duty tasks, from trailering heavy equipment to carrying hefty cargo. A newly designed cargo bed for 2019 vehicle models, known as CarbonPro, will help them stay up to these tasks with less vehicle weight. CarbonPro beds are made with a lightweight carbon fiber composite that weighs 25 percent less than a traditional steel bed, removing roughly 62 pounds of vehicle mass. Its grained surface also negates the need for bed liners, potentially saving a total of 100 pounds of weight.
But the material does not sacrifice durability—in fact, CarbonPro is now the most scratch-, dent- and corrosion-resistant pickup bed in the industry. Validation testing for the bed included drop tests using cinder blocks, 1,800-pound loads of gravel and water-filled steel drums; extreme temperature testing in environments from Arizona to Ontario; and scratch testing performed using a snowmobile with metal studs on the track driven into the bed and accelerated at full throttle. The CarbonPro bed withstood it all.
GM’s supplier can produce one CarbonPro cargo bed about every 10 minutes with almost no waste created in the manufacturing process. As sheets of carbon fiber are trimmed to fit the cargo beds, scraps are ground and used for other pieces of the design. Because the entire process happens in a single Indiana facility, recycling is quick and efficient.
The benefits of carbon fiber are numerous, but it remains expensive to work with. Now that GM has foundational expertise working with this material to launch the CarbonPro, we may explore opportunities to purchase carbon fiber in greater volumes to further decrease vehicle weights across our portfolio.