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General Motors Ultium EV Batteries to Feature Wireless Management System

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【Summary】The American automaker’s high-tech batteries will feature a new wireless battery management system that should make things easier for GM to manufacture multiple EVs.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Sep 13, 2020 7:30 AM PT
General Motors Ultium EV Batteries to Feature Wireless Management System

General Motors has a major plan to take Tesla on in the electric-car war and it includes high-tech batteries. The automaker recently announced its upcoming Ultium battery line, which features the brand's Ultima battery technology. The Ultium batteries are a direct competitor to the ones found in Tesla's electric cars, featuring capacities that range from 50 kWh to 200 kWh. 

The biggest battery is expected to have a range of up to 400 miles. The batteries, which will be manufactured as part of a joint venture with LG Chem, will be incredibly affordable, too, costing roughly $100 per kWh.

Cutting-Edge Technology

Clearly, the Ultium batteries are GM's high-tech way of taking the fight to Tesla. As the date for GM's arrival of Ultium-battery-powered electric vehicles approaches, the automaker is dropping more information on what's behind the technology. According to GM, it will be the first automaker to utilize an "almost completely" wireless battery management system (wBMS) for its electric cars.

The wireless system was developed in partnership with Analog Devices, Inc. and is part of the reason why GM will be able to produce so many different types of EVs using a common set of battery components. The wBMS is also expected to help GM bring EVs to market quicker and help ensure the scalability of the automaker's Ultium batteries for future products. 

The main advantage of the wBMS system is that it reduces the number of complex wiring schemes and specific communications systems between different electric cars.

One major advantage for GM is that its Ultium batteries are flexible to the point where engineers can incorporate new chemistry over time as the technology is introduced. Just like the design of the pack, the wBMS structure can be updated with new features as more advanced software comes out. Furthermore, GM's Vehicle Intelligence Platform could even allow for wBMS to be upgraded with software-based features through updates that mimic the ones on smartphones.

Many Other Benefits

"Scalability and complexity reduction are a theme with our Ultium batteries – the wireless battery management system is the critical enabler of this amazing flexibility," said Kent Helfrich, GM executive director of Global Electrification and Battery Systems. "The wireless system represents the epitome of Ultium's configurability and should help GM build profitable EVs at scale."

GM's wBMS has other benefits, including increasing range thanks to the ability to reduce the number of physical wires within the batteries by roughly 90 percent. Less wires also means more room for extra batteries. Battery reuse after their life in the physical vehicle has come to an end will provide GM with "unique repurposing capability" over conventional wired monitoring systems.

The wireless wBMS system will be standard on EVs with GM's Ultium batteries, including the upcoming GMC Hummer.

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