General Motors says it will be the first automaker to go wireless when it comes to the battery management system of its future electric vehicles. As part of the company’s Ultium battery system, the wireless battery management system (wBMS) will reduce complexity and weight for every GM EV.
Effectively, GM is eliminating most of the wiring harness currently required to have communications with the massive battery pack of an electric vehicle. Like many consumer devices, GM is going wireless with nearly all of the pack’s communications. Software updates, communications with other vehicle components and other information exchange to and from the battery pack will be conducted wireless within the vehicle.
GM says going wireless has a lot of benefits. One of the most interesting is that it is increasing the flexibility of the Ultium packs. With traditional packs the wiring architecture of the vehicle has to be specifically designed to meet the needs of the EV’s battery pack; eliminating this requirement means the same battery pack design can be used in a variety of vehicles without the wiring concerns.
The wBMS also reduces overall vehicle weight; a positive when it comes to energy efficiency. GM actually says it is able to increase the size of the Ultium battery packs thanks to the increased free space from not having so many wires going to the pack.
“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 benefits of wBMS do not end with the useful life of the electric vehicle. According to GM, the wireless solution is already designed to manage the pack without a vehicle. Specifically, all Ultium packs will have the management function to act as secondary power generators after their life in a vehicle.
GM says cybersecurity is at the core of its new wBMS, though the company has not disclosed technical specifics of the system. For example, it isn’t clear which wireless technology or frequency wBMS is utilizing or what type of encryption will secure it.
The wireless battery management system will be standard on all GM vehicles that utilize Ultium battery packs, including the Cadillac Lyriq and upcoming Hummer EV.