GM Gets Ahead of the Curve on EV Battery Recycling

“GM’s zero-waste initiative aims to divert more than 90 percent of its manufacturing waste from landfills and incineration globally by 2025,” said Ken Morris, GM vice president of Electric and Autonomous Vehicles. This is one effort toward that end.

By Gary S. Vasilash

No one can say that General Motors and its partner LG Energy Solution aren’t being proactive.

The two companies operate a joint venture, Ultium Cells LLC. Ultium Cells will build the Ultium batteries that GM will use in its forthcoming electric vehicles (EVs).

Ultium battery for the GMC HUMMER EV Pickup. Those white slats slot into that container. (Image: GM)

GM’s current EVs—the Chevrolet Bolt EV and Bolt EUV—have lithium-ion batteries, but not Ultium batteries. That’s because the vehicles were developed pre-Ultium.

However, vehicles like the forthcoming Cadillac LYRIQ, which is to become available the first half of 2022, will have Ultium batteries on board.

Ultium Cells announced that it will be working with L-Cycle, a battery recycling company, to, well, recycle the material scrap from battery cell manufacturing.

Cobalt. Nickel. Lithium. Graphite. Manganese. Aluminum.

According to GM, 95% of the reclaimed materials can go into things like new batteries.

Li-Cycle says that the hydrometallurgical process it uses to recycle the materials is more energy efficient than other methods, like high-temperature “smelting” processes.

Which is fitting to what Ultium Cells is up to, as Thomas Gallagher, the company’s COO, said, “We strive to make more with less waste and energy expended.”

And at the very least, it undoubtedly beats the heck out of mining those materials.

The recycling process is scheduled to go on line later this year.

After all, they need to develop batteries so they can develop scrap.

Developing the 2022 Bolt EUV

If you have any doubt that EVs have a future in an arena mainly populated by things with pistons, watch this show

Rob Mantinan was a self-described “gearhead” growing up in metro Detroit. He had a Camaro when he was in high school. His dad was a UAW worker at a GM facility in Warren. He went to Kettering University. And started right out of school at GM. He has a mechanical engineering degree from the school with a specialization in automotive powertrain. Which is arguably what a gearhead would get.

But then, while working at GM, he pursued a graduate degree and obtained a master’s in energy systems engineering. He was working on things like the Chevy Volt and his focus began to shift.

The Bolt is quick. But probably not faster than an X-Wing. (Image: Chevrolet)

Which makes a whole lot of sense for what he is doing now: Mantinan is the program engineering manager for the Chevrolet Bolt EV and the Bolt EUV.

On the subject of going from one propulsion system to another, he admits, “I got converted pretty quickly,” adding, “I’ve turned from a piston guy to an EV guy. And I can’t see going back—other than as a toy.”

It is certainly good to be a strong believer in what you are doing. It makes doing it all the better and satisfying. And arguably results in a better outcome.

On this edition of “Autoline After Hours” Mantinan talks about the development and characteristics of the Bolt EUV, which is based on the Bolt EV platform, but stretched in terms of overall length (it is 169.5 inches long vs. 163.2 inches) and wheelbase (105.3 inches vs. 102.4 inches), with most of the addition space being used for rear passenger legroom (39.1 inches vs. 36 inches).

From a styling point of view, Mantinan says that the Bolt EUV is moving the Bolt “to the mainstream”: it resembles more of a crossover than a five-door hatch.

And the Bolt EUV is being offered with tech that is only otherwise available on. . .Cadillacs.

That’s right. On a vehicle that starts under $40,000 Super Cruise Level 2+ tech can be obtained.

One of the topics—which seems to come up whenever EVs are discussed—is the range. The Bolt EUV range is an estimated 250 miles. When asked whether they considered providing enough battery to allow a greater range, Mantinan notes (1) for existing Bolt customers, the range has not been a problem and (2) they wanted to assure that the Bolt EUV was accessibly priced for the buyer who isn’t interested in making the hefty payments that are associated with some other brands: This is a Chevy. (In addition to which, GM will be bringing out an array of EVs—including some with the bowtie on the front—that will be using its Ultium battery technology, but that’s in the future and the Bolts are now.)

Mantinan talks with “Autoline’s” John McElroy, Jeff Gilbert of WWJ-950, and me.

Then the three of us discuss a variety of subjects, including VW’s Power Day, Cruise Automation buying Voyage, Foxconn’s reported EV plant plans, and a whole lot more.

You can see it all here.

2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV

Advanced tech in a car for today

Although General Motors is bullish on the whole notion of people driving around in electric vehicles (EVs), for the most part that’s something that is off into the future because there aren’t a whole lot of EVs out there for people to drive—vehicles from GM or any other OEM, for that matter.

GM has had the Bolt EV in dealerships since 2017, a compact car. Compact cars of any type aren’t exactly high on the lists of consumer gotta-haves, and let’s face it: GM’s offering in this space hasn’t been such that people are likely to think when they go out shopping, “Hmm. . . I think I’ll go check out GM compact models.”

Which is to say that the company needs to modify its approach, and with the Bolt EUV it has done that—a bit.

2022 Chevrolet Bolt EUV: Second EV in the Chevy lineup. (Image: Chevrolet)

According to program engineer Rob Manitian, the Bolt EUV shares no sheet metal with the Bolt EV. That said, the Bolt EV has undergone a midcycle refresh so in its new execution, it has a different look, as well.

The rationale for the Bolt EUV is to make the vehicle have more of a “utility” appearance, because if there is something that market wants—and that Chevy has on offer from small to medium to large—its something that seems “utile.”

Seems is pretty much the operative word for the Bolt EUV when it comes to utility vis-à-vis its stable mate.

That is, the Bolt EUV is bigger than the Bolt EV:

The EV has a wheelbase of 102.4 inches; the EUV 105.3.

The EV has an overall length of 163.2 inches; the EUV 169.5.

The height difference is just 0.2 inches.

The size difference is manifest in the rear legroom:

The EV offers 36 inches; the EUV 39.1.

But here is where the seems kicks in: Cargo volume.

The cargo volume behind the rear seat in the EV is 16.6 cubic feet and it is 57 cubic feet with the rear seat folded.

The cargo volume behind the rear seat in the EUV is 16.3 cubic feet and it is 56.9 cubic feet with the rear seat folded.

While those numbers are not significantly different—especially that 0.1 cubic foot difference—one might imagine that the EUV might offer a significant difference when it comes to accommodating stuff, which it clearly doesn’t. (OK. It has standard roof rails. But. . . .)

If you’re not putting someone in that rear seat, then one could say that the choice between the two is pretty much a wash, given that the vehicles have the same platform and propulsion system.

The vehicle is powered by a 150-kW permanent magnet motor. (A.k.a., 200 hp) There is a 65-kWh lithium-ion battery pack that provides an estimated range of 250 miles on a full charge. With a Level 2 charger (240 V) the battery goes to a full charge in 7 hours; with a DC fast charge system, up to 95 miles in 30 minutes.

Because of the increase in the wheelbase, there is a different driving dynamic, one that is appreciated when using. . . Super Cruise.

That’s right: the hands-free driver assistance technology that has been heretofore available only in Cadillac models has moved to the Bolt EUV.

The Super Cruise system makes use of sensors—radar, cameras, on-board—and a LiDAR map. (No, it doesn’t have LiDAR but the mapping of some 200,000 miles of roads—like freeways—that has been done with a LiDAR system. What does that mean? Simply that it is really accurate. In addition to which, GM has a contract with a company that is out there right now, scanning more roadways and updating existing ones, information that goes to Super Cruise via over-the-air updates.)

You activate the system, set speed for adaptive cruise, and assuming you’re on roadway that is good to go, you center the car in the lane, it then gives you a lightbar on the steering wheel indication that it is ready, so you push the button a second time. . .and remove your hands from the steering wheel.

The Bolt EUV then maintains speed—adjusted based on the set spacing via the adaptive cruise—and maintains the lane. The road curves; the steering wheel makes the adjustment.

You are not permitted to take a nap or read a newspaper because there is an unobtrusive “Driver Attention System” that uses infrared lighting and a small camera on top of the steering column that keeps an eye on your eyes (even through sunglasses) so that if you’re paying insufficient attention to what’s going on, the system let’s you know that’s not acceptable behavior.

But to return to the wheelbase for a moment. When driving at freeway speeds in the adjacency to big rigs, unless you’re in a full-size SUV or pickup truck, you’re going to feel buffeting. The addition six inches of wheelbase undoubtedly helps keep things from feeling too unsettling when the Bolt EUV is, essentially, driving itself (I suppose that this point I ought to have in big red letters something that says YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR BEING IN CONTROL OF THE VEHICLE because as modern as it is, you’re still in charge).

The interior of the vehicle is fresh and contemporary without being too overtly “futuristic” in execution. I actually wish it did seem to be a bit more advanced because let’s face it: this is still leading-edge technology compared to about 95% of everything else on the road, so those who are adopting it ought to get a nod that they’re participating in the creation of the future. (It is worth noting that the front end of a white Bolt EUV does resemble a Star Wars stormtrooper, however.)

But perhaps the biggest takeaway of the Bolt EUV is that while it is a technologically sophisticated vehicle, it is a normal vehicle. It is a vehicle that anyone can drive without feeling as though they’re in something that is uncomfortably different (“Uh, how do I ________________”).

Which is what will really matter in order to get more people behind the wheels of EVs.–gsv

Electric Delivery: A Clever Approach to Logistics

This van is compact, capable and electric. And it has a hell of a price-point

This is nothing if not clever.

Even were it not for COVID-19, the success of e-commerce was driving all manner of commercial delivery vehicles into neighborhoods across the U.S. The pandemic has only accelerated that growth, and suddenly even businesses that never imagined that they’d be in the delivery business (e.g., restaurants that aren’t based on pizza) suddenly are if they want to stay in business.

One of the characteristics of electric vehicles is that because they have fewer parts than a vehicle with a combustion engine, there are fewer things that could break. In addition to which, there are fluids, like oil, that need to be changed.

Companies that have fleets of vehicles (even if that fleet consists of, well, one), know that maintenance is both costly and time consuming.

So that’s on the good side of the ledger for an electric delivery vehicle.

So James Taylor, who is the founder and CEO of Electric Last Mile Solutions (and a man who has run operations with names that you might be more familiar with, like Cadillac and Hummer), says that a right-sized delivery vehicle that happens to be electric can be a cost-effective game-changer for many companies.

The vehicle that will be offered by Electric Last Mile Solutions (ELMS) is a Class 1 delivery van. It is based on a model that is on the road in China, the Sokon EC35. It has a cargo capacity of 170 cubic feet and a maximum payload of 2,403 pounds. It is compact, with a 120-inch wheelbase and a length, width and height of 177, 66 and 78 inches, respectively.

The ELMS Class 1 delivery vehicle. (Image: ELMS)

It has a 100 kW electric motor from JJE and a 42-kWh battery from CATL.

It has a range of 150 miles.

Back to that cost of equipment issue.

According to Taylor, the vehicle is going to be priced at about $32,500. When you take the $7,500 federal tax credit off of that, it is at $25,000, a price, he says, that someone can get a combustion-powered Class 1 van for. So because of the reduction in required maintenance and other factors, Taylor says the total cost of ownership is about 35% better than the traditional approach.

The vehicles will be produced in Mishawaka, Indiana, in the 675,000-square-foot factory that used to be the Hummer plant. It has the capacity to build over 100,000 vehicle per year, which is probably a good thing for Taylor because he says that they have more than 30,000 reservations for the vehicle.

The bodies-in-white will be delivered to the plant so there is no stamping, welding or painting involved. It will be all about assembly.

Because there is a vast array of requirements in the commercial space, Taylor says upfitters will actually work within the Mishawaka plant so customers will get their van from the factory.

It is very clever.

Taylor talks about what ELMS is doing on this edition of “Autoline After Hours” with “Autoline’s” John McElroy, Christie Schweinsberg of Wards Intelligence and me.

In addition, McElroy, Schweinsberg and I discuss a variety of other subjects including the need for better and more extensive EV charging infrastructure, the introduction of the Chevrolet Bolt EUV, Jaguar Land Rover’s plans to go electric, Ford of Europe’s electrification plans, and a whole lot more.

All of which you can see right here.

Chevy Adds a Bolt

Another electric vehicle from the mainstream brand, one that resembles a compact SUV. . .

Chevrolet is launching a new variant of its Bolt EV* electric vehicle—the Bolt EUV—as well as a refresh of the Bolt EV itself for model year 2022. The Bolt EUV, says Bolt chief engineer Jesse Ortega, combines an EV with design cues of an SUV.

The 2022 Chevrolet Bolt EV and Bolt EUV with Spaceship Earth in EPCOT at the Walt Disney World Resort. (Image: Chevrolet)

While the take rate of EVs is on the order of approximately 2%, Steve Majoros, vice president of Chevrolet Marketing, notes that the Bolt EV is the number-two best-selling EV in the market (in 2020 Chevy delivered 20,754 Bolt EVs, a 26.5% increase compared with 2019; the number-one selling EV in the U.S. in 2020 was the Tesla Model 3, with an estimated 158,000 deliveries), and that it attracts more people to General Motors than any other vehicle in the company’s lineup.

While both vehicles share the same underlying architecture, the Bolt EUV is six inches longer than the Bolt EV.

Both vehicles share the same propulsion system and lithium-ion battery. Ortega says the Bolt EV has 259 miles of range on a full charge and that the Bolt EUV will have an estimated 250 miles of range. Ortega notes that the Bolt EUV is taller, longer and a bit heavier than the Bolt EV, which explains the difference in range.**

Charged Up

GM is working with EVgo for a build out of public charging stations, with plans to add more than 2,700 chargers by the end of 2025.

What’s more, Chevy will cover standard installation of Level 2 charging capability for customers of the 2022 models (either of the two), working with Qmerit, a company that specializes in finding EV equipment installers.

“’Range anxiety’ is a term we have to get rid of,” Oretga says.

According to Rob Mantinan, program engineer, the Bolts can achieve about 25 miles per hour of charge.

Inside Softer

As they had to develop the interior for the Bolt EUV, the Bolt EV is getting an interior upgrade, as well. Phil Zak, executive design director, Chevrolet, says there are “tech-focused interiors, with more premium materials, which are key to our growing EV portfolio.”

There is a new instrument panel, a flat-bottom steering wheel, a gear shift that uses toggles and buttons, a 10.2-inch-diagnoal infotainment color touchscreen, and more soft-touch materials. The EUV is available with an optional sunroof.

A notable offering for the EUV is Super Cruise, the hands-free driver assistance technology that has migrated from Cadillac. It allows the driver to her to remove her hands from the steering wheel on some 200,000 miles of mapped roadways in the U.S. and Canada.

Outside Edgier

On the exterior, the EUV features a crease line that runs from the front fascia through the center of the hood, horizontal body lines and standard roof rails, which are said to signify more of an SUV approach. LED headlamps are standard.

The EV has a more upright front fasica and new front and rear lighting.

One thing that can be said about the exterior designs of both vehicles is that they look far more like 21st century EVs than the current Bolt EV or the now-out-of-production Volt (a.k.a., the “extended range electric vehicle”).

Cost Down

The base price of the 2022 Bolt EV, including destination, is $31,995. That’s $5,000 less expensive than the base 2021 model.

Majoros says that the price decrease is predicated on the build-out of a supply chain, process improvements through the past few years and economies of scale. There is an emphasis that this is not an approach of decontenting.

The Bolt EUV starts at $33,995.

A Launch Edition for the EUV is being offered. It includes Super Cruise, sunroof, unique wheels, special badging and an illuminated charge port. Its price is $43,495.

Disney Magic

To launch the Bolt EUV Chevy put the reveal at the Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom with a presentation by Nick Cho, who is known for his @YourKoreanDad on TikTok, and a special video that GM and Disney collaborated on.

Unlike the MY 2000-2003 Chevy Venture, which offered the Warner Bros. edition, which included a Bugs Bunny badge, this apparently will not include a Tinker Bell.–gsv

*The “EV” is part of the name of the “Bolt EV.” So in contexts where the type of vehicle is appended to the name, it is the “Bolt EV EV.” (The EUV avoids that with the addition of the vowel.

**Bolt EV dimensions (inches): 102.4 wheelbase; 163.2 length; 69.5 width; 63.4 height

 Bolt EUV dimensions (inches): 105.3 wheelbase; 169.5 length; 69.7 width; 63.6 height