Dual charging ports could allow electric trucks great energy flexibility
General Motors recently filed a patent application for a dual charging port setup that could help get the most out of the Ultium battery system in the automaker’s electric pickup trucks.
GM has developed a dual-layer battery that is already used in the GMC Hummer EV and is planned for the upcoming Chevrolet Silverado EV and GMC Sierra EV. The proposed configuration could provide more flexibility in how these two layers are loaded.
Using a series of controllers and switches, as well as the pack’s built-in ability to operate as two different packs in series or in parallel, the app describes different charging scenarios for dual-layer vehicles.
GM patent filing – dual charging ports
For reference, in the GMC Hummer EV 12, the battery modules are wired in series to form one layer, which is functionally a separate battery. This layer is connected in parallel to another identical layer with the same number of modules. In the Hummer EV, that’s over 100kWh of battery capacity, with 800-volt charging to take advantage of faster 350kW DC fast-charging hardware.
GM says one charging port could be configured to charge at 800 volts or 400 volts, while the other port would be connected to the second layer of the pack and limited to 400V. The system could connect them in series, charging simultaneously upper and lower layers at 800 V using only the first port. Or he could charge both layers to 400 volts by connecting them in parallel.
A third configuration would isolate the two layers, charging them one at a time, GM noted. Alternatively, the second port could be used to charge accessories at 400 volts while the vehicle continues to charge at 800 volts. This could allow GM trucks to power tools or other equipment while charging. Ford advertised its F-150 Lightning as a mobile power source, but it only has one charging port so it can’t.
2024 Chevrolet Silverado Electric
GM also noted that with the addition of another switch, it would be possible to upgrade the second charging port to 800 volts. An illustration submitted with the patent application shows the two ports side-by-side, a layout that likely makes more sense for fleet vehicles billed in company garages than for personal vehicles, which would likely benefit from a port on each side.
It’s unclear if GM will actually put dual charge ports into production, but other trucks with dual-layer batteries are on the way. The Chevy Silverado EV and GMC Sierra EV are both slated to hit the market in 2023 as 2024 models.