General Motors announced deliveries of its first electric vehicles utilising the dedicated EV architecture Ultium. The US carmaker has handed over a GMC Hummer EV electric pickup truck and the first EV600 van from GM’s BrightDrop brand. FedEx is holding 500 of these vans on order.
Both the pick-up truck and Brightdrop EV600 utilise GM’s Ultium platform. The manufacturer calls it “the heart of the EV product strategy” as the architecture includes the proprietary batteries (manufactured by Ultium Cells, a joint venture with LGES) and the proprietary drive and power electronics. These build the foundation for all future GM electric vehicles and related services. GM plans to launch 30 new EVs globally through 2025, utilising Ultium technology.
“This is the first chapter for Ultium – and GM’s transition to a zero-emissions future,” said GM President Mark Reuss when commenting on the deliveries today.
While some advances of a shared platform are obvious, i.e. enabling GM to make different types of vehicles with less development cost and fewer parts, the company today points out what Ultium means for the vehicles just delivered.
Take the GMC Hummer EV, which features an interdependent body frame and battery structure. GM says this allows outstanding off-road proportions and strong protection of the EV’s battery, doubling as a stiffening body member. This increased stability also enabled features like the removable Infinity Roof panels that would have been difficult to achieve on a conventional pickup, so the company.
For the BrightDrop EV600 delivery van, GM claims it never moved faster from concept to market introduction with any other GM vehicle, all under a new brand name and thanks to the EV architecture. BrightDrop is delivering its first EV600s to FedEx beginning today.
“The delivery of the first BrightDrop EV600s is a historic moment, born out of a spirit of collaboration between two leading American companies,” said Mitch Jackson, chief sustainability officer, FedEx.
As reported previously, it is unclear whether the new van has rolled off the lines at a partner factory, presumably Kuka. When starting the small series production, GM was still looking to dedicate a factory of its own. This will likely be GM’s Ingersoll plant in the Canadian province of Ontario. Once converted, it will host the actual series production of the model from November 2022.
Not so for the Hummer EV, the flagship already being made at the new Factory Zero in Detroit-Hamtramck. GM stressed it saw the factory converted into an all-electric car plant as “a model for future renovations” of its existing facilities at the opening in November. In future, the SUV version of the GMC Hummer EV, the electric Chevrolet Silverado and the electric shuttle Cruise Origin will also be rolling off production lines at Factory Zero.
Other factories are under construction or in the process of conversion. GM says it invested more than $4 billion specifically in EV production. In the USA, another nearly $5 billion has been spent on battery cell manufacturing targeting at least 140-gigawatt hours of cell-making capacity. Battery partner LG ES and GM are already building two Ultium battery cell factories in Lordstown in Ohio and Spring Hill in Tennessee. A third one has been rumoured for Lansing, Michigan, but a decision heavily depends on state subsidies.
GM’s next Ultium-based vehicle, the Cadillac Lyriq, is scheduled to launch in the first half of 2022 and will be assembled in Spring Hill, Tennessee. The Chevrolet Silverado EV officially debuts next month at CES, so GM.
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