Honda and General Motors have been collaborating on the development of alternate propulsion system s, especially electric propulsion for some time now. They have been working together on the development of fuel cell powered vehicles and the Cruise Origin which is an electric, self-driving and shared vehicle. In 2018, Honda also joined GM’s battery development programme.
An outcome of these collaborations is the new series of Honda vehicles for the United States and Canadian markets which would be based on GM’s flexible global EV platform using the Ultium battery as the source of energy. Though the platform is from GM, the interiors and exteriors would be designed by Honda, while GM will help engineer the vehicle to have typical Honda driving characteristics. These Honda cars would be manufactured at GM’s plant in North America and are expected to hit the market 2024.
GM’s flexible global EV platform can power affordable transportation, luxury vehicles, work trucks as well as high performance machines. Vehicles designed on this platform will offer a 0-60 mph (0-96 Km/h) in as low as 3 seconds. GM is planning 19 different battery and drive unit configurations initially, including horizontal and vertical stacks to power vehicles ranging from affordable cars and crossovers to luxury SUVs and pickup trucks. Motors for the platform would be designed in house and will support front or rear wheel drive, as also all wheel drive and performance all wheel drive configuration.
The Ultium batteries from GM are unique in the industry in having a large-format pouch style cells which can be stacked vertically or horizontally inside the battery pack. This allows engineers to optimize battery energy storage and layout for each vehicle design. GM’s ability to stack batteries vertically is unique in the industry and it allows for a flat cabin floor and more interior room than comparable EVs that use cylindrical battery packs. The pack also allows engineers to deliver vehicles with an optimized weight distribution and a lower center of gravity to improve ride and handling.
The Ultium batteries have the highest Nickel and lowest Cobalt in the large format pouch cell. This format also needs lesser wiring and plumbing as compared to small cylindrical cells. GM claims that the wiring requirement has gone down by 80% as compared to the Volt EV. The Ultium batteries can be designed to have a storage capacity between 50 to 200 KW-h, allowing vehicles with ranges up to 400 miles (640 Km) in one charge. Electric Vehicles powered by Ultium batteries are designed for Level 2 and DC fast charging. Most personal vehicles designed with these batteries will operate at 400-volt and have up to 200 kW fast-charging capability. On the other hand commercial vehicles and private truck platform will have 800-volt battery packs and 350 kW fast-charging capability.