General Motors Showcases Ultium Battery Technology and Cadillac Lyriq Electric SUV Concept at EV Day

Rebecca Lindland | Mar 06, 2020

During an EV Day presentation at its Technical Center Design Dome in Michigan, General Motors rolled out its future electrification plans, showcasing new, proprietary Ultium battery technology and a preview of twelve upcoming all-electric vehicles. Of particular interest is a new electric Cadillac SUV called the Lyriq, which ushers in the brand’s electric vehicle strategy and naming convention.

2022 Cadillac Lyriq Concept Electric SUV Front View

There was plenty of news throughout the day, including an in-depth look at the manufacturer’s bespoke, Michigan-designed battery technology. Ultium batteries use an exclusive low cobalt chemistry and elongated pouch-style cells that stack horizontally or vertically in a battery pack. Based on my handling of an individual cell, it weighs about 5 pounds and measures roughly 18 inches long, 4 inches wide, and about half an inch thick.

As a result of this flat design, GM can bundle Ultium battery packs into 6, 8, 10 or 12 modules and also double stack them for use in nearly any type of vehicle. This stacking function provides a battery capacity from 50 to 200 kWh and a range of up to 400 miles or more on a full charge. GM touts an estimate of 0-to-60-mph acceleration in under three seconds for the most powerful battery.

For perspective, Tesla batteries max out at 100 kWh on the Model X and Model S. Rivian is expected to release a 180-kWh battery for its R1T EV pickup and R1S EV SUV, making GM’s Ultium battery size the largest in the market.

Ultium’s versatility means GM can power everything from cars to crossovers and, and from pickup trucks to commercial vehicles. GM also unveiled a purpose-built electric vehicle modular chassis which is flexible enough to support front-wheel, rear-wheel, all-wheel, and performance all-wheel-drive configurations. With up to three electric motors, GM claims the upcoming 2021 GMC Hummer teased in this year’s Super Bowl commercial has a combined 1,000 horsepower.

The new Ultium battery charging supports Level 2 and DC fast charging. Most vehicles will have 400-volt battery packs and up to 200-kW fast-charging capability, while trucks will have twice as many battery packs and 350-kW fast-charging capability. Tesla’s Supercharger V3 falls in between with a charging rate of 250 kW.

GM’s recently enhanced Energy Assist app directs EV owners to available public charging stations from a variety of companies such as EVgo and Chargepoint. GM is also working with a range of companies to offer workplace charging and even consolidating offers from local electricians for installing a Level 2 charger at home.

Along with the battery technology, EV Day featured a preview of the Lyriq, the name of Cadillac’s new electric SUV. The Lyriq will be shown to the public in April 2020, but we got a chance to examine a full-scale concept model.

The 2022 Cadillac Lyriq rides on GM’s new EV architecture and features traditional SUV looks with a long hood and a modern, sleek roofline. The Lyriq sports a distinctive, highly styled grille with bold use of lighting, including vertical headlamps and a glowing white emblem. Around back, the taillights swing up aggressively and curve around the sides, emphasizing the SUV’s coupe-like lines.

Inside, the Lyriq SUV concept mimics the Cadillac Escalade, with a wide, sweeping 34-inch curved single display housing both the instrument cluster and the infotainment system. Interior appointments include rich leather, matte wood, and an unusual resin material with actual wildflowers encased inside. The four-seat cabin houses a generous center armrest and touchscreen for second-row occupants. While GM says the Lyriq concept is 95% accurate for the production model, it’s likely the one you’ll be able to buy will offer seating for five people.

We’ll get more information at the global reveal in April. Cadillac says it will start Lyric production in 2022 at GM’s dedicated EV plant in Detroit.

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