With plans to go 100% electric by 2035, General Motors has launched a new division that not only will help EV buyers charge up but also break away from the established electrical infrastructure. GM’s existing Chevrolet Bolt lineup will soon have more company with more electric SUVs and an upcoming Silverado electric pickup, plus more battery-powered options from Cadillac and GMC.
GM Energy at Home
Dubbed GM Energy, it will introduce two new product lines, Ultium Home and Ultium Commercial. The Detroit automaker previously launched the Ultium Charge 360 system. GM Energy will cover a broad range of new products, including solar power, stationary energy storage, app and cloud-based management tools, as well as technology that can tap into a vehicle’s battery pack to provide energy to a home, office or grid in the event of a power outage.
“We know how to manufacture vehicles very well (and) we’ve very competent at manufacturing batteries at scale,” GM’s vice president and chief EV growth officer Travis Hester said in an interview. “There’s a need to do more,” Hester added, noting that, “We think this will help us…with EV adoption.”
Beyond the Chevy Bolt
GM launched its first long-range battery-electric vehicle, the Chevrolet Bolt EV, in 2016. It’s since introduced a bigger Bolt EUV, as well as the GMC Hummer EV and Cadillac Lyriq EV. It plans to roll out an assortment of additional models over the next several years.
That includes all-electric models for all four U.S. brands, though it’s the bowtie marque, Chevrolet, that will charge up most quickly with the Blazer EV, Silverado EV, Equinox EV and even a battery-powered Chevrolet Corvette. Cadillac, meanwhile, is getting ready to launch the ultra-premium Celestiq which, at more than $300,000, will target competitors like Bentley, Ferrari and Rolls-Royce.
The Ultimate Ultium System
All will make use of the Detroit automaker’s new Ultium battery technology and variants of the skateboard-like EV platform. And GM officials have promised that such future offerings will deliver significantly longer range and quicker charging.
But finding places to plug in has been a major concern for EV drivers—something GM Energy aims to address. It’s not only the need to expand the availability of public chargers, but also to address the robustness of the U.S. electrical infrastructure.
“GM Energy has the opportunity to help deliver sustainable energy products and services that can help mitigate the effect of power outages and provide customers with resilient and cost-effective energy management,” Hester said in a statement released by the automaker on Tuesday.
GM is addressing such challenges in a variety of ways, among other things partnering with a number of public charging providers, while also offering the Ultium Charge 360 system developed in-house.
Power to the Chargers
Using energy software and apps, the automaker aims to give EV customers more control. For one thing, owners can program the times they want to charge up. In many parts of the country that allows them to take advantage of time-of-use utility discounts. Motorists can “pre-condition” their vehicles to be warmed or cooled, as needed, before they plug in.
Beyond making it easy to charge up, GM Energy will make it possible for retail and commercial customers to generate their own power using solar energy, while also storing excess energy in battery backup systems. It also permits them to use “V2L” (or Vehicle-to-Load) technology to tap into the battery pack of a vehicle like the big Hummer EV. That energy could be used to maintain power at a home or office. It also could be wired into the grid to reduce strain on the infrastructure. In some cases, owners could be paid for the energy they provide.
GM has lined up a broad range of energy and technology partners, including SunPower, New York’s Con Edison, California’s PG&E and others.The largest of the Detroit automakers isn’t the only brand developing a broad range of hardware and services for its EV customers. Cross-town rival Ford is teaming up with Sunrun to provide chargers, solar arrays and standalone battery backup systems for its all-electric vehicles like the Mustang Mach-E and F-150 Lightning.
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