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GM unveils new EV battery, platform to lower costs, raise EV sales

General Motors

General Motors says significant economies of scale will drive down the cost of its next generation of electric vehicles. 

On Wednesday, the automaker revealed a highly flexible platform that can be used for many different vehicles, along with its new "Ultium" batteries, developed in conjunction with business partner LG Chem.

The company says its future EVs will be profitable from the get-go, something its previous EV program could not boast.

The automaker also revealed some of its latest EV prototypes.

“Thousands of GM scientists, engineers and designers are working to execute an historic reinvention of the company,” said GM President Mark Reuss. “They are on the cusp of delivering a profitable EV business that can satisfy millions of customers."

GM says its new EV batteries will be much cheaper than previous versions. That's important, because the battery is the most costly part of an EV. And the higher expense of electric cars is one of the main reasons people aren't buying them in large numbers. 

Sam Abuelsamid is a principal analyst with Navigant Research.

"They'll be getting close to making these cost competitive with internal combustion engines," he says.  

He says GM will also be introducing EVs in popular segments like crossovers and trucks, including an electric Hummer. Many of GM's new EVs will be in showrooms in just two or three years.  

Abuelsamid figures GM's strategy puts it in a position to compete well with the current EV leader, Volkswagen. 

He says GM's Dearborn rival, Ford Motor Company, is a bit behind in EV development, which is why that automaker has invested so heavily in EV truck maker Rivian.

But he notes that Ford, too, is planning to launch a number of highly appealing electric vehicles, including the Mustang Mach-E and an Electric F-150, and some of Ford's new EVs may be ready for the showroom sooner than GM's.