General Motors' subsidiary, GM Defense, will supply the U.S. Department of Defense with battery packs under a new contract with the U.S. Defense Innovation Unit.
The prototype packs will be derived from GM's Ultium technology and be designed to be scalable for use with tactical military vehicles, as well as other platforms within the Department of Defense. It's not yet clear exactly what vehicles or specific use cases the DoD has in store for the Ultium packs, however, the ultimate goal is to accelerate the military's adoption of commercial-ready technology—such as GM's Ultium battery technology—into its everyday use.
GM's Ultium line of batteries is the automaker's bread and butter as EVs fight combustion vehicles, as well as one another to gain market share. The packs are designed to be highly scalable and support storage configurations of up to 200 kilowatt-hours using different chemical makeups and cell form factors. Presently, only the Hummer EV and Cadillac Lyriq are produced with Ultium packs, though many other vehicles across GM's brands will ultimately be equipped with the tech, including the hotly anticipated Chevrolet Silverado EV.
“This award is a critical enabler for non-traditional defense businesses like GM Defense to deliver commercial technologies that support our customers’ transition to a more electric, autonomous and connected future,” GM Defense's President Steve duMont said in a statement. “Commercial battery electric technologies continue to mature. GM Defense offers a unique advantage with our ability to leverage proven commercial capabilities and the billions in GM investments in electric vehicle and autonomous vehicle technologies in order to help provide our customers with the most advanced capabilities the commercial market can offer.”
This isn't the first time that the U.S. government has tapped GM for its electric vehicle tech. In July, the Army purchased a Hummer EV from GM Defense in order to reduce its reliance on fossil fuels “both in operational and garrison environments.” The Army also looked to use the Hummer's vehicle-to-load capability so that it can essentially use the truck as a large power bank in the field. Separately in 2020, GM Defense also won a $214.3 million contract to build the Infantry Squad Vehicle based on the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2.
GM's contract win here was pretty much a shoo-in given the work that it already put into Ultium. The automaker has already architected its battery and powertrain systems to work in a variety of vehicles up and down the lineups of its various brands. Moreover, it designed the battery packs in mind to work in a variety of conditions, whether it be limited by size or environment. If the U.S. military deems these systems suitable for duty, the various military branches could soon see a lot more EVs.
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