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GM’s electric vehicles debuting wireless system

Common set of battery units to get cars on market sooner

WARREN — General Motors on Wednesday released more details about its Ultium propulsion system for its all-electric models, the battery cells for which will be mass produced in Lordstown.

The automaker will be the first to use an almost completely wireless battery management system for electric vehicle production. Developed with Massachusetts-based Analog Devices, Inc., the system will allow GM to power several types of electric vehicles from a common set of battery components.

It’s expected to drive GM’s Ultium-powered electric vehicles to market faster by eliminating the time needed to develop specific communications systems or rewiring harnesses for each new vehicle. Instead, the system “helps to ensure the scalability” of Ultium batteries across brands and segments, from performance vehicles to heavy-duty trucks, according to GM.

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

According to Analog Devices, implementing the system eliminates the traditional wired harness, saving up to 90 percent of the wiring and up to 15 percent of the volume of the battery pack.

The company also said the system improves design flexibility and manufacturing without compromising range and accuracy over the life of the battery.

This wireless system also provides a unique repurposing capability for battery reuse in secondary applications. When the wireless packs are to the point where they are no longer ideal for optimum vehicle performance but still functional as consistent power suppliers, they can be combined with other wireless battery packs to form clean power generators, according to GM.

The announcement comes on the heels of news Tuesday that GM has a $2 billion partnership with Nikola to build the Phoenix-based electric vehicle company’s Badger, a hydrogen fuel cell and electric pickup truck.

GM will take an 11 percent ownership in the company and engineer and build the truck that is expected to be in production at the end of 2022, which lines up with the estimated completed construction date of the plant in Lordstown, Ultium Cells LLC.

The $2.3 billion plant on Tod Avenue is adjacent to the automaker’s former assembly plant that closed in March 2019. At full production it will employ about 1,200 people and supply battery cells to multiple electric vehicles GM plans to roll out in the next five years.

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