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Next-Gen GM EVs to Get Wireless Battery Management Tech

New system promises performance, cost and environmental benefits
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All future General Motors electric vehicles will feature a new battery management system that the carmaker describes as “almost completely wireless.”

The reason for the “almost” disclaimer? The new technology, which was developed with Norwood, Mass.-based electronics giant Analog Devices, reduces battery wiring by 90% rather than 100%.

GM claims it will be the first carmaker to use a wireless battery management system (WBMS) in a production EV. The technology will be introduced in conjunction with GM’s new Ultium batteries, starting with the upcoming GMC Hummer pickup and Cadillac Lyriq crossover vehicle.

Wireless Benefits  

The new architecture provides several advantages over current EV batteries, according to the partners. For starters, it’s a scalable system that will allow a common set of battery components to be used in everything from mainstream cars to performance models and heavy-duty trucks.

GM is partnering with Analog Devices on a wireless battery management system for next-gen EVs. (Image: GM)

The carmaker also points to greater packaging flexibility, simpler manufacturing and weight reduction that can help boost a vehicle’s driving range.

Other purported benefits include:

  • Faster development times
  • Enhanced diagnostics
  • Future-proof software updates
  • Easier recyclability/secondary life applications

WBMS eliminates the need to develop specific communication systems or redesign wiring configurations for each new vehicle, explains Kent Helfrich, GM executive director of global electrification and battery systems. “The wireless system represents the epitome of Ultium’s configurability and should help GM build profitable EVs at scale.”

Improved Performance

In addition to weight and packaging benefits, WBMS promises to help balance chemistry within individual battery cell groups to optimize performance.

The system also can conduct real-time battery health checks and refocus the network of modules and sensors as needed to safeguard long-term reliability, GM says.

Over-the-air software updates enabled via GM’s Vehicle Intelligence Platform allow new functions to be added quickly and inexpensively.

There’s one more advantage: GM says a wireless system makes it easier to repurpose an Ultium battery at the end of an EV’s life or when the battery capacity falls below vehicle requirements. This includes teaming several used batteries together to create what GM calls “clean power generators.” 

What’s Next?

GM, which currently offers just one all-electric model (the Chevrolet Bolt), plans to launch 20 EVs globally by 2023.

The company also is co-developing at least two EVs with Honda and will build Nikola’s upcoming Badger pickup. All of these vehicles will use Ultium batteries, which GM is jointly developing with LG Chem.

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