GM wows CES 2021 with flying car concept, Ultium battery system and BrightDrop for logistics

GM's flying car concept called eVTOL would be the carmaker's first venture into aeromobility. (General Motors)

General Motors officials described an ambitious vision for electric and autonomous vehicles at CES 2021 on Tuesday, showing off a futuristic flying car drone concept and three new EV models based on a more efficient modular battery system called Ultium.

The one-seater flying vehicle dubbed eVTOL (electric Vertical Take Off and Landing)  was depicted in a short video showing it has four rotors and the ability to take off and land vertically, although many details weren’t revealed.  GM first discussed the flying car concept in September. It represents GM’s first foray into aero-mobility.

“We are preparing for a world where advances in electric and autonomous technology make personal air travel possible,” said Michael Simcoe, vice president of GM’s global design.  “It is a concept designed for the moment when time is of essence and convenience is everything.”

 The drone uses a 90 KwH EV motor to power four rotors and has air to air and air to ground communications.“ It is a glimpse of what autonomy and Cadillac luxury might look like in the not-too-distant future,” Simcoe added.

GM expects to invest $27 billion in EV and autonomous vehicle products through 2025, including  30 new EVs launched by the end of that  year, CEO Mary Barra said in a digital keynote address.

GM also announced BrightDrop, a new business devoted to electrification of logistics with a new electric pallet, EP1, and a new electric light commercial vehicle the EV600. FedEx Express is slated to be the first customer to use the EV600.  A FedEx pilot of the EP1 pallet found the technology could enable workers to move up to 25% more packages, FedEx CEO Richard Smith said.

Two new electric vehicle models—the GMC Hummer EV and the Cadillac Lyriq will rely the Ultium battery system. In its presentation, GM also introduced another Cadillac EV called the Celestic. 

The Ultium battery system can boost power in future models by adding more battery modules, from six to 24 modules offering 450 miles of range per charge at 40% lower cost and 25% lower weight.   Each battery relies on aluminum with a reduced amount of cobalt, as well as nickel and manganese.

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