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Dual charge ports could allow electric trucks a lot of energy flexibility

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General Motors recently filed a patent application for a dual charging port arrangement that could help make the most of the Ultium battery system in the automaker’s electric pickup truck.

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GM has developed a dual-layer battery pack already used in the GMC Hummer EV, and is slated for the upcoming Chevrolet Silverado EV and GMC Sierra EV. The proposed arrangement can provide more flexibility in the way the two layers are filled.

Using a series of controllers and switches, as well as the package’s built-in ability to operate as two different packages in series or parallel, this app describes different charging scenarios for dual layer vehicles.

GM patent filing - dual charging ports

GM patent filing – dual charging ports

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For reference, in the GMC Hummer EV 12 battery modules they are connected in series to create a single layer, which is functionally a separate battery pack. That layer is connected in parallel to another identical layer with the same number of modules. In the Hummer EV, that expands the battery capacity to over 100 kwh, with 800 volt charging to take advantage of the faster 350-kw DC fast charging hardware.

GM outlines that one charging port can be configured to charge at 800 volts or 400 volts, while the other port will plug into the second layer of the package and be limited to 400V. The system can connect them in series, charging the top and bottom layers simultaneously at 800V using the first port only. Or can charge both layers at 400 volts by connecting them in parallel.

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The third configuration will isolate the two layers, filling them one at a time, GM notes. Alternatively, the second port can be used to charge accessories at 400 volts while the vehicle continues to charge at 800 volts. That could allow GM trucks to power tools or other equipment while they are charging. Ford had advertised the F-150 Lightning as a mobile power source, but it only had one charging port and was therefore unable to do so.

2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV

2024 Chevrolet Silverado EV

GM also notes that, with the addition of another switch, the second charging port can be increased to 800 volts. An illustration filed with a patent application shows the two ports side by side—a layout that might make more sense for fleet vehicles charged in a company garage than private vehicles, which would likely benefit from ports on each side.

It’s unclear if GM will actually put dual charging ports into production, but more trucks with dual-layer battery packs are on the way. The Chevy Silverado EV and GMC Sierra EV are both expected to hit the market in 2023 as model year 2024.

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