General Motors establishes GM Energy to enter the grid
General Motors announces expanding its ‘Ultium Charge 360’ service into a holistic ecosystem. The new Ultium Home and Ultium Commercial brands combined with EV charging now form the dedicated business unit GM Energy which integrates all charging needs in line with the grid.
The new offers will go as far as electricity generation with GM Energy essentially taking the company closer to a mission first called by Tesla: to integrate electric vehicles and (solar) power generation. However, General Motors retains focus on electric vehicles first and lists bidirectional charging, vehicle-to-home (V2H) and vehicle-to-grid (V2G) applications among GM Energy’s chief tasks.
Going beyond the EV base, the new business will also offer stationary storage and solar products alongside corresponding software applications, cloud management tools, or microgrid solutions. The grid connection is to go as deep as selling energy from EVs back to utilities during peak load periods.
“The massive scale of GM Energy’s solutions will allow us to better address current challenges with grid infrastructure, energy storage and energy management head-on,” said Mark Bole, VP and Head of V2X Battery Solutions at GM. “By leveraging GM’s flexible technology platforms and the power of Ultium, we’re able to provide resilient and accessible energy solutions for all customers and the grid.”
GM presented the Ultium platform in September 2021, calling 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 services now offered through GM Energy. GM plans to launch 30 new EVs globally through 2025, utilising Ultium technology.
To offer connectivity, however, the carmaker relies on the cloud, considered the central interface for GM Energy’s solutions. It will house data and energy management tools for private and commercial clients. Here, GM says, it already has contracts with multiple utilities across four US states.
Among them is SunPower, a solar technology and energy services provider. They will help GM develop and later install a home energy system consisting of integrated EV and battery solutions, solar panels and home energy storage (cue in Tesla and former SolarCity here). GM intends to launch the new system for V2H services in synch with the Chevrolet Silverado EV, expected in 2024.
Another initiative includes a V2H pilot project between GM Energy and Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) launched in March this year. GM EV drivers will receive a bi-directional charger to reutilise the EV battery as backup power during short-term power outages. After initial lab tests, the two companies hope to offer a “subset of residential customers within PG&E’s service area,” read NoCal, with the new V2H service, from 2023.
“GM’s collaboration with PG&E further expands our electrification strategy, demonstrating our EVs as reliable mobile sources of power,” said GM Chair and CEO Mary Barra.
GM Energy works with several other companies, such as Con Edison, Graniterock and New Hampshire Electric Cooperative (NHEC).
General Motors launched Ultium Charge 360 in 2021 to cover public and private charging in the USA.
At the time, GM had agreements with seven major charging networks in North America: Blink Charging, ChargePoint, EV Connect, EVgo, FLO, Greenlots and SemaConnect, integrating about 60,000 charge points. The company is also a partner to EVgo for building out infrastructure.