General Motors Co. in Detroit has entered a joint development agreement with lithium metal battery innovator SolidEnergy Systems in Singapore. As part of the agreement, the companies will build a manufacturing prototyping line for batteries in Massachusetts.
“Affordability and range are two major barriers to mass EV adoption,” says Mark Reuss, president of GM. “With this next-generation Ultium chemistry, we believe we’re on the cusp of a once-in-a-generation improvement in energy density and cost. There’s even more room to improve in both categories, and we intend to innovate faster than any other company in this space.”
GM’s lithium metal battery with a protected anode is designed to offer affordability, high performance, and energy density. The initial prototype batteries have completed 150,000 simulated test miles at research and development labs at GM’s Global Technical Center in Warren.
The company is working with partners and making investments that it says will allow the company to scale quickly.
GM Ventures was an early investor in 2015 in SolidEnergy, a research, development, and manufacturing leader of lithium metal technology and artificial intelligence-powered battery management software. The companies have been working together since the investment.
As part of the agreement, GM and SolidEnergy plan to build a manufacturing prototyping line in Woburn, Mass., for a high-capacity, pre-production battery by 2023.
The expected battery energy density increase could enable higher range in a similarly sized pack or comparable range in a smaller pack. The weight and space savings from smaller battery packs could help with vehicle lightweighting or create room for additional technology.
GM already has lithium metal battery experience; its expertise resulted in 49 patents granted and 45 patents pending. The company revealed its first-generation Ultium Platform about one year ago, and the Ultium-based products are expected to go on sale later this year.
The company committed more than $27 billion to electric and autonomous vehicle product development and plans to launch 30 electric vehicles globally by the end of 2025, with more than 20 available in North America. Cadillac, GMC, Chevrolet, and Buick will be represented, with price points designed for work, performance, and family use.
SolidEnergy was founded in 2012 and has operations in Boston, Shanghai, and Seoul.