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GM's Ultium Energy Recovery Feature Helps Improve Range, Charging Times

GM’s Ultium platform underpins the company’s EVs like the GMC Hummer EV, Chevrolet Silverado EV, and the Cadillac Lyriq. It features clever designs to maximize range and performance while also improving charging times. A new energy recovery system that captures and repurposes waste energy from the battery is among them.
GM's Ultium energy recovery feature helps improve range, charging times 8 photos
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GM is not the first carmaker that figured out that EV batteries, power electronics, and other propulsion components generate heat while operating. But the legacy carmaker turned EV crusader has found a better way to use this heat by recovering it and storing it for later use. It uses a heat-pump system for this purpose to conserve battery and improve performance.

The heat pump system baked into the Ultium platform can capture not only the heat from the drive system but also humidity from both inside and outside the vehicle, including body heat from passengers. The energy can then be deployed to heat the cabin in cold weather without using the battery, thus improving the range by as much as 10%, according to GM’s estimates.

Moreover, the Ultium platform can precondition the battery and the drive system as necessary. For instance, the battery is heated before plugging into a charger to allow for increased power (and shorter charging times). The drive system can also be cooled to allow for extreme driving modes such as Watts to Freedom (WTF) in the GMC Hummer EV, which can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in approximately 3.0 seconds.

Having a ground-up EV architecture gives us the freedom to build in standard features like Ultium’s energy recovery capabilities,” said Doug Parks, GM executive vice president, Global Product Development, Purchasing, and Supply Chain. “This helps us squeeze more efficiency, performance and overall customer benefit out of our EVs.”

GM may not be perceived as an EV pioneer today, but the company actually built the EV1, its first electric car, back in the ’90s. The EV1 also had a heat pump, making it the first-ever electric vehicle to feature such a system. The Ultium platform’s energy recovery feature traces its inception back to the EV1 era and will be included with all current and planned Ultium vehicles.



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