American automotive giant General Motors (GM) has announced plans to be the world’s first automaker to use an almost completely wireless battery management system in its production electric vehicles (EVs).
GM announced last week its wireless battery management system, or wBMS, which was developed in partnership with American semiconductor company Analog Devices, would be the “primary driver of GM’s ability to ultimately power many different types of electric vehicles from a common set of battery components.”
GM hopes that the new wBMS will help accelerate the rollout of its Ultium-powered EVs, as there will be no need to develop specific communication systems or redesign complex wiring schemes for each new vehicle type.
Instead, the new wBMS will ensure the scalability of GM’s new Ultium batteries across the company’s future EV lineup and which will encompass different brands and vehicle segments, from heavy-duty trucks to performance vehicles.
The Ultium batteries – the result of a partnership with South Korean battery maker LG Chem announced in December and which began constructing its new Ultium factory in July – and the new wBMS will allow new features to be introduced through over-the-air software updates.
“Scalability and complexity reduction are a theme with our Ultium batteries – the wireless battery management system is the critical enabler of this amazing flexibility,” said 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.”
The wBMS will enable GM’s EVs to balance chemistry within individual battery cell groups for optimal performance as well as conduct real-time battery pack health checks and refocus the network of modules and sensors as necessary, helping to safeguard battery health over a vehicle’s lifespan.
The “wireless” aspect of the new battery management system is similarly important in GM’s efforts to make more efficient and customer attractive EVs. According to GM, by reducing wires within the batteries by up to 90% it can help extend charging range by creating lighter vehicles overall and allow extra room for more batteries.
Allowing not only for cleaner design but also simpler and more streamlined battery restructuring as needed, the new wBMS will also enable simpler repurposing capability for battery reuse in secondary applications after its time in a vehicle is done.
“General Motors is paving the way toward an all-electric future, and Analog Devices is proud to work with this highly respected automotive leader on the next generation of electric vehicles,” said Greg Henderson, Analog Devices, Inc. senior vice president of Automotive, Communications, and Aerospace & Defense.
“Our collaboration is aimed at accelerating the transition to electric vehicles and a sustainable future.”