General Motors (GM) is collaborating with Analog Devices Inc. to create an almost completely wireless battery management system (wBMS) for the production of electric vehicles (EVs).
The wBMS is expected to drive GM’s Ultium-powered EVs in order to get vehicles to market faster. GM said the wBMS helps ensure the scalability of Ultium batteries across GM’s future lineup of vehicles including different brands and vehicle segments, even heavy-duty trucks and performance vehicles.
GM said the Ultium batteries can be upgraded over time with new software-based features via smartphone-like updates over-the-air through GM’s intelligence platform.
The wBMS reduces wires in the batteries by up to 90%, which GM said will help extend charging range by making vehicles lighter and opening up extra room for more batteries. Additionally, this extra space creates a cleaner, simpler design and more streamlined battery restructuring and manufacturing processes.
The system can conduct real-time battery pack health checks and refocus the network of modules and sensors to help safeguard battery health over the vehicle’s lifespan. The system also features a cybersecurity aspect with protective features within the hardware and software layers to protect the wireless communication.
GM plans for the wBMS to be standard on all planned GM vehicles powered by Ultium batteries once the system is available.
Meanwhile, GM has entered into a strategic partnership with Nikola Corp., which will use GM’s Ultium battery system and Hydrotec fuel cell technology. In exchange, GM will receive 11% ownership ($2 billion equity stake) in Nikola.
Nikola said it will save more than $4 billion in battery and powertrain costs in the next 10 years and more than $1 billion in engineering and validation costs. GM said it expects to receive in excess of $4 billion of benefits between the equity value of the shares, contract manufacturing of the Badger, Nikola’s electric truck, supply contracts for batteries and fuel cells, and EV credits for the life of the contract.
The Badger truck is expected to enter production by the end of 2022 and GM will engineer, approve, validate and manufacture the Nikola Badger battery electric and fuel cell versions.