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General Motors betting on new battery tech, Cadillac brand for EVs

As General Motors Co. lifted its 2019 guidance, the automaker touted key components of its electric vehicle strategy, including a new battery technology that will help it ramp up sales and a push to make Cadillac its lead electric car brand.

GM president Mark Reuss told investors on a Jan. 11 call that GM aims to become the first maker of "profitable, highly desirable" electric vehicles.

The new president said the Cadillac brand will become GM's lead electric-vehicle brand and the "tip of the corporate spear" on EVs. Previously, GM was focusing on the Chevrolet brand for EVs. The automaker announced in November 2018 that it is ending production of its Chevy Volt hybrid as it focuses on all-electric technology.

Meanwhile, the Detroit-based automaker is working on its next-generation battery electric-vehicle architecture or BEV3. Reuss said the technology will help the company increase sales volume and ultimately decrease costs. This will allow "astounding flexibility across the vehicle portfolio," he said.

This architecture includes a new battery system, which "will allow battery packs to fit into vehicles like ice cubes in an ice tray," Reuss said.

The "tray" takes up the same amount of space no matter how many slots are filled, the president said. For example, the same tray can be used in any model, and the battery slots can be filled as needed without custom trays.

"BEV3 architecture is why we're so bullish on the future of electrification in our product portfolio," Reuss said. He declined to say when the new technology will be ready for production.

On Jan. 9, the automaker announced a collaboration with EV charging networks EVgo, ChargePoint and Greenlots.

Reuss said during the call that this would give GM access to nearly 10,000 charging stations.

GM's electric-vehicle program will benefit from the automaker's restructuring that it announced in November 2018, Reuss said. GM said it is cutting its car production and reducing its salaried staff by 15% in North America.

Before the investors call, GM announced that it raised its adjusted diluted EPS and free cash flow outlook for fiscal 2019.

The automaker expects adjusted diluted EPS to come in at $6.50 to $7 for the year ending Dec. 31, 2019, versus its previous guidance of $5.80 to $6.20. It also predicts an adjusted automotive free cash flow of $4.5 billion to $6 billion for the year.

GM shares closed 7% higher at $37.17 on Jan. 11.