GM Debuts New EV Platform It Pioneered Two Decades Ago

The sign reads “our electric future is now” but it should have read “our electric future is 20 years ago.” GM just debuted a new skateboard-style electric vehicle platform for its upcoming EVs, which will sound strange to those of us who still remember GM debuting a skateboard-style electric vehicle platform circa 2002.

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Illustration for article titled GM Debuts New EV Platform It Pioneered Two Decades Ago

At the same show that Ford showed off the reborn GT and Cadillac showed off the Cien, GM showed off the AUTOnomy concept. It was less of a car and more of a platform. Everything that was needed to make the car run and drive was contained in the flat chassis of the car. Any body could fit on top.

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The 2002 AUTOnomy concept. I saw this while touring the Fuel Cell Partnership in California when I was in school.
The 2002 AUTOnomy concept. I saw this while touring the Fuel Cell Partnership in California when I was in school.

Indeed, the GM HyWire concept that was on Top Gear back in the day was on this platform.

If you’re looking for a full history of how the skateboard chassis came about, Sam Abuelsamid wrote one up a few years ago, detailing how it was inspired by the Mercedes A-Class of all things. What I am more interested in is why, after all these years, it is only just coming back to GM.

If you have any information about what happened to the AUTOnomy project, please email me at raphael at jalopnik dot com, or contact Jalopnik securely. Here’s how to do so.

In any case, here are GM’s claimed specs for this platform, per its press release, and they seem pretty good at their top end and pretty flexible too:

  • GM’s new Ultium batteries are unique in the industry because the large-format, pouch-style cells can be stacked vertically or horizontally inside the battery pack. This allows engineers to optimize battery energy storage and layout for each vehicle design.
  • Ultium energy options range from 50 to 200 kWh, which could enable a GM-estimated range up to 400 miles or more on a full charge with 0 to 60 mph acceleration as low as 3 seconds. Motors designed in-house will support front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, all-wheel drive and performance all-wheel drive applications.
  • Ultium-powered EVs are designed for Level 2 and DC fast charging. Most will have 400-volt battery packs and up to 200kW fast-charging capability while our truck platform will have 800-volt battery packs and 350 kW fast-charging capability.
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The cars on this platform are coming soon, including the EV Hummer, as GM tells us:

The Cruise Origin, a self-driving, electric shared vehicle, shown to the public in January 2020 in San Francisco, was the first product revealed using GM’s third generation EV platform and Ultium batteries. Next will be the Cadillac Lyriq luxury SUV in April. Details about its launch will be shared then. The reveal of the Ultium-powered GMC HUMMER EV will follow on May 20. Production is expected to begin in Fall 2021 at GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant, GM’s first assembly plant 100 percent dedicated to EV production.

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The only sad thing is that GM is no longer a groundbreaker in this field. We look forward to VW’s modular EV platform in production vehicles here soon, to say nothing of the skateboard-chassis Teslas that have been on sale for years. The Model 3 is one of the best-selling cars in America right now. GM, it could have been you.

Raphael Orlove is features editor for Jalopnik.

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DISCUSSION

mjensenwv
move-over-peasant-I-have-an-M5-in-the-shop

leave it to GM to be two decades behind itself.