How does it work?
With an, "if it ain't broke don't fix it," method, GM has come up with an electrified version of a normal internal combustion engine. Most of the parts have always worked, we just in layman's terms shrunk the whole thing and made it so it works without any need for internal combustion. We just took the efficient parts of an internal combustion engine, made it work with electricity, and now we're cooking with... well... not fire but you get the picture.
Regular batteries use cylindrical battery cells, we made it modular so we would have the flexibility to use the same cells for a compact car all the way to a bus or semi-truck-trailer (and beyond? Who knows maybe the technology will be in planes and ferries one day too). This modular design makes it so that we can stack the cells vertically or horizontally like lumber in tiny freight containers on a freighter which means for a Bolt or similarly small vehicle we can keep it compact without sacrificing space or power (2022 Bolt models are pushing 500km for a full charge), and for vehicles that are supposed to pack more power into them like the Hummer EV, we're looking at similar mileage for some pretty impressive torque and horsepower. Much like cell phone providers, we're continually trying to engineer more efficient more compact batteries to save space so we can pack more power into a vehicle and still make the vehicle roomy with loads of storage.
We're working with LG Energy Solution to revolutionize the battery so we've moved away from a traditional lithium battery in favour of the NCMA (Nickel Cobalt Manganese Aluminum) battery. Switching to NCMA massively improves cycle life, capacity, resistance to microcracking, and all kinds of issues batteries are plagued with. In essence, NCMA is the superior battery technology right now (If you don't just want to take our word for it, we encourage you to Google it! We're not just trying to sell you something, we're trying to sell you the best kind of battery we've tried, a battery we can actually get behind, a battery that speaks for itself without any need for marketing fluff).
But isn't cobalt unethical?
We're looking into the most ethical options we can so we can use high-quality raw materials without the glaringly obvious ethical issues behind a lot of cobalt production. This is why we're proud to be able to say we're partnered with Glencore which has a no-tolerance policy for human rights abuse anywhere in the supply chain and does all of their extraction of cobalt from nickel (mined in Australia), copper (ethically mined in The DRC), and used batteries for GM in Australia which has a myriad of laws in place to protect workers' rights. We know that this is one of the biggest issues with battery production and that's why GM is working to ethically source this material. We don't want you to have to feel bad about where your battery comes from, we want you to feel good about driving an electric car and not have to think about it. Glencore does not purchase from illegal artisanal mining sources and is working with local groups in the DRC to educate parents and children on the risks of artisanal mining. The DRC's poverty rate is fairly high so in addition to educating on this dangerous practice, Glencore is doing its best to support and diversify the local economy so fewer people feel the need to allow themselves or their children to be put at risk in artisanal mining situations. Glencore is a member of the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights Initiative and actively participates in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. GM started as a company that supported and celebrated the people that helped make it succeed, so it just wouldn't be a GM thing to forget the people who make our batteries possible, that's why we're working with Glencore to make sure that we're not just treating our people on this side of the pond right, but doing right by the people whose labour is the reason we can believe in an electric future. When we say everybody in, we mean it. GM will painstakingly source out the most ethical options period. It's just a GM thing. Have we 100% succeeded in that goal? Maybe not, but we're going to do our best when ethical issues arise to do the right thing even if it's not feasible to snap our fingers and fix it. Striving to do better is just what we do.