GM’s Ultium has reached China, with the Chevrolet FNR-XE Concept EV revealed last week.
The concept, which was developed in Shanghai, was shown as part of GM’s Tech Day for China. It’s the first concept for China that wraps in GM’s battery and propulsion architecture for scaling up EVs with local SAIC-GM resources.
On a global scope, it’s of interest as the first four-door sedan the automaker has revealed on the Ultium suite that could be mass-produced, unlike the hand-built, $300,000 Cadillac Celestiq electric hatchback.
The FNR-XE Concept has a roofline that flows downward like a fastback at the rear, with a taper just behind the rear passenger area. Side sculpting emphasizes the rear flanks, which may hint that GM intends to emphasize rear-wheel drive in some versions. The nose is rather low, while the height of the passenger cell may be a first test of how well GM can package its large-format Ultium cells beneath the passenger area in a volume car.
Citing GM China sources, some outlets have reported that this model is production-bound as soon as next year, but Green Car Reports received no reply in a request for more information from GM China. GM in the U.S. noted only that it’s “a proof point of the rapid-scaling Ultium platform.”
In any case, the FNR-XE won’t be the first Ultium EV for China. As part of last week’s announcements, Buick said that it would introduce its first Ultium-based EV for China—a five-seat SUV—later this year, followed by a second Ultium EV next year.
The Buick EVs—and we would assume the Chevy—debut a new-generation Virtual Cockpit System jointly developed at GM’s PATAC engineering and design joint venture in Shanghai.
The company hasn’t yet released dimensions for the concept, although it’s likely sized in the same range as the Chevrolet Equinox EV crossover in all but height, and thus would land close to the Tesla Model 3. That might position it against the BYD-powered Toyota bZ3 sedan, among many other EVs in the China market.
GM says that it will launch more than 15 EVs in China by 2025, so in all likelihood the Chevy concept also points to a future form factor GM sees for that market. As the automaker continues to aim toward 30 EV models by 2025 globally, we’ll see if an affordable electric sedan is also part of the U.S. plan.
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