General Motors once led the world in auto sales, and still, with some exceptions, leads the U.S.
Now the automaker hopes to become a leader in electric vehicles on its home turf and beyond.
The Detroit company has made massive investments in EV technology in a bet that its new Ultium platform — consisting of batteries, motors, software and other components — will help it to outpace competition from legacy automakers and countless start-ups and eventually replace Tesla as the No. 1 EV maker.
The automaker unveiled its Ultium EV platform in March 2020 and as is delivering the first vehicles built around it this year.
At the heart of the Ultium platform are GM’s batteries. They were developed in partnership with LG Energy Solutions, a division of the Korean conglomerate LG Corp.
The batteries use a highly unusual chemistry that reduces expensive and tough-to-source cobalt by 70%. That move, the company says, will help push battery pack costs below $100 per kilowatt-hour — commonly considered to be a critical threshold for EVs to be competitive with internal combustion engines.
GM’s system for managing its battery pack is also different from competitors. The Ultium platform allows GM to run battery cells with different chemistries in the same pack, so parts of the pack can be replaced as time goes on.
It’s innovations like these that GM says will make it a leader in EVs in North America by 2025. Tesla dominated the U.S. market in 2021.
But competition from other automakers is stiff. And there are many more challengers on their way, from just about every corner of the world.