General Motors, which is currently scaling up its electrification efforts using its new Ultium platform, might make a major move related to batteries.
According to The Elec, unofficial sources suggest that the company is considering the use of cylindrical lithium-ion battery cells (over pouch type) in its future electric models.
If true, that would be a big change for a company that has been using the pouch cell format for more than a decade (since the original Chevrolet Volt in 2010).
The report says that this idea is also a potential cause of why the Ultium Cells’ fourth battery cell factory (joint venture with LG Energy Solution) hasn’t received a green light yet.
The Elec‘s sources indicate that if GM decides to use cylindrical battery cells, it’s highly likely that it will be the same form factor as in the case of Tesla – 4680 (a standard diameter of 46 mm and a height of 80 mm).
Tesla battery cells (from left): 1865, 2170 and 4680
Panasonic batteries: from left the 1865-, 2170- and 4680-type cylindrical battery cells.
As of today, all of the above is speculation, but we already saw that the cylindrical lithium-ion batteries are gaining traction. As we understand, the new large, high-capacity cylindrical cells (several times bigger than the 1865- and 2170-type) are considered the new optimum solution for all-electric cars.
The most notable move was made by the BMW Group, which announced the use of cylindrical battery cells (instead of prismatic type) in its sixth-generation battery systems. There will be two types of cells with a standard diameter of 46 mm and two different heights: 95 and 120 mm.
Several independent battery manufacturers have already signed up for the production of such types of batteries – including Panasonic, LG Energy Solution, Samsung SDI, CATL and Envision AESC. The last three were confirmed as BMW suppliers).
Meanwhile, Tesla produces its 4680-type cylindrical battery cells in-house (in California, with a plan to produce also in Texas and in Nevada). The company is also interested in purchasing such batteries from external suppliers such as Panasonic, and potentially others.