GM & Honda Deepen Their Electric Car Collaboration

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A few weeks ago, General Motors held a splashy event for the news media to celebrate its commitment to building electric cars. One of the highlights of that presentation was the announcement of a new battery architecture the company calls Ultium, “which were designed in Michigan, will use large-format, pouch-style cells that can be stacked vertically or horizontally inside the battery pack,” according to CleanTechnnica’s Loren McDonald.

Image courtesy of General Motors

The batteries will be manufactured at a factory in Ohio jointly owned by GM and LG Chem with an annual capacity of 30 GWh. The Ultium battery features more aluminum and less cobalt than the batteries GM has used in its previous electric cars such as the Volt and Bolt.

In a press release dated April 2, Honda and General Motors announced they will be working together to develop two all new electric vehicles for Honda. They will be built on GM’s global EV platform and powered by Ultium batteries. The exterior and interior of the new EVs will be designed by Honda and the platform will be engineered to support Honda’s driving character.

This is a boon for Honda, which up to this point has invested more money, time, and effort in developing hydrogen fuel cell cars than battery electric cars. The new cars will be manufactured at General Motors factories in North America with sales beginning in 2024.

“This collaboration will put together the strength of both companies, while combined scale and manufacturing efficiencies will ultimately provide greater value to customers,” said Rick Schostek, executive vice president of American Honda. “This expanded partnership will unlock economies of scale to accelerate our electrification road map and advance our industry-leading efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We are in discussions with one another regarding the possibility of further extending our partnership.”

As part of the agreement to jointly develop electric vehicles, Honda will incorporate GM’s OnStar safety and security services into the two EVs, seamlessly integrating them with HondaLink. Additionally, Honda plans to make GM’s hands-free advanced driver-assist technology available. That will give Honda access to GM’s Super Cruise technology which is just now becoming available on certain Cadillac models.

 More About Ultium

General Motors waxed eloquent about its Ultium battery last month, but one member of the CleanTechnica community put things in a bit more perspective. In a comment to Loren McDonald’s article, GreenPat had this to say.

“Large format pouch cell. Otherwise know as the the same cell LG makes for the rest of their pouch customers Jaguar, Audi, Mercedes, Ford, Hyundai/Kia. The NCMA chemistry isn’t unique either. LG already makes that chemistry for others.

“GM may have come up with a novel way of packaging these into modules and then packing those modules into packs. We’ll have to see the finished product to see how much of that is marketing speak. At least they will be built by LG in a factory dedicated to GM. Otherwise they could end up in the same disruptions the iPace, eTron, and EQC have seen with their LG pouch cells.”

Industry Convergence Continues

The conflation of the auto industry continues. If Honda is building cars at GM factories built on GM chassis platforms, will they they be a Honda or just another Buick? If Ford builds cars on Volkswagen’s MEB platform, will the be Fords or VWs? In other news, BYD and Toyota are going to build cars together.

In coming years, mergers and consolidations will abound as the number of car companies shrinks. Remember when America had Plymouth and Pontiac dealers? It wasn’t so long ago. Expect quite a few name plates to disappear from the marketplace between now and 2030. The only question is, which will survive and which will not?

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Steve Hanley

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. He is proud to be "woke" and doesn't really give a damn why the glass broke. He believes passionately in what Socrates said 3000 years ago: "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new."

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