Stellantis announces STLA EV platform – 4 sizes; 3 electric drive modules; eight vehicles within 5 years

Stellantis recently held its EV Day 2021 event, where it revealed its electrification strategy that will see a slew of new EVs from brands within its portfolio. The company, which was formed as a result of the merger between Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and Groupe PSA, has 14 brands under its wing, so developing technologies that can be cross-shared is imperative to keep costs down.

This is particularly important because affordability is a priority for Stellantis, with the company targeting for the total cost of ownership of EVs to be equivalent to vehicles with an internal combustion engine by 2026. The solution that the company has come up with to meet this goal is called Stella.

Who’s Stella? No one, really. It’s actually how the company chooses to pronounce its new STLA platform that is dedicated to EVs. Modular by design, the architecture accommodates vehicles of various sizes from small to large, and there are four versions planned.

Fittingly, the names of each version are straightforward and easy to understand, with the first referred to as STLA Small. This version will be for ua-compact models (like city cars) and can be fitted with battery packs with capacities of between 37 and 82 kWh for a range of up to 500 km.

The next step up is the STLA Medium for compact cars with between 87 and 104 kWh and up to 700 km. This is followed by the STLA Large that offers up to 800 km of range and comes with battery packs of between 101 and 118 kWh. During the company’s presentation, it confirmed that eight vehicles based on the STLA Large will be arriving in the next three to five years, with more likely on the way after.

The company didn’t go into detail, but examples of possible vehicles were shown, including what looks to be a midsize Ram truck, a Jeep off-roader, a Chrysler electric crossover, a Jeep Wagoneer and Dodge’s electric muscle car, just to name a few.

Meanwhile, the last of the bunch is the STLA Frame that can hold battery packs of between 159 and over 200 kWh for up to 800 km of range. Unlike the previous three STLA platforms that feature a unibody construction, the STLA Frame is a body-on-frame solution that will be used for large pick-up trucks and commercial vehicles, including the fully electric Ram 1500 that is due in 2024.

Vehicles based on STLA will also benefit from software that can be continuously updated over time to improve functionality. This is something that many EV makers are already doing, with plenty of connected services available to customers. Stellantis won’t be doing this alone, as it will work with Foxconn on infotainment, telematics, cloud service platform development and in-vehicle connectivity offerings.

To get these cars to move, Stellantis has come up with a three-in-one electric drive module (EDM) that combines the motor, gearbox and inverter into one compact unit. As with the STLA platforms, the EDM is scalable, with three versions being presented, and vehicles can be configured for front-drive, rear-drive, all-wheel drive and 4xe in the case of plug-in hybrids Jeeps.

The least powerful version is referred to as EDM #1 and it provides 70 kW (95 PS or 94 hp) while operating on a 400-volt architecture with a silicon-based power device. For larger vehicles, there’s the EDM #2 that outputs 125-180 kW (170-245 PS or 168-241 hp) and also operates on a 400-volt design, but with the additional option of a silicon-carbide-based power device.

The most powerful is EDM #3 that overlaps with the EDM #2 in terms of power devices and operational voltage, although the latter gains an additional 800-volt option. The outputs are 150-330 kW (204-449 PS or 201-443 hp). These figures are for one EDM, so with two fitted, the hypothetical max output is 660 kW (897 PS or 885 hp) – Dodge will be pleased. Fast charging? You bet, with Stellantis claiming a recovery of 32 km per minute of being plugged in.

Batteries will be another core ingredient in Stellantis’ EV plan, and the company is opting for a multi-pronged approach with battery chemistries. In the short term, there will be nickel-based batteries as well as a nickel-cobalt-free option, with the former offering a higher energy density at the expense of costlier raw materials. By 2026, the company will develop solid-state batteries.

Up to 2024, the nickel-based batteries will be packaged into modules that go into a full battery pack that eventually gets fitted onto the STLA platform. The alternative uses a cell-to-pack construction where the individual battery cells are integrated directly into the battery pack, and this method will be adopted across the board by 2026 to reduce costs.

To ensure there are enough batteries for vehicle production, Stellantis aims to secure more than 130 GWh of capacity by 2025, with three gigafactories (Elon Musk coined this term to describe its battery plants) planned for Europe (80+ GWh) and North America (50+ GWh).

Further down the line, the company aims to have five gigafactories by 2030 in order to have access to 260 GWh of capacity (170+ GWh in Europe and 90+ GWh in North America). These initiatives will be supported by company’s joint venture with Total – Automotive Cells Company (ACC) – as well as technical partners.

Stellantis plans to invest more than 30 billion euros (around RM149 billion) through 2025 to execute its EV strategy. With new products from its brands, the company is targeting over 70% of sales in Europe and over 40% in the United States to be low-emission vehicles by 2030.

With so many EVs being produced, sustainable battery management is another aspect that the company is taking into consideration. Battery packs that are damaged can be repaired or remanufactured so their usability is extended, or if they are no longer suitable for use in an EV, they can be repurposed for a second life. If there is no life left, batteries are then recycled to recuperate raw materials.

Lastly, Free2Move eSolutions, a joint venture between Stellantis and Engie EPS, will set up over 1,500 charging locations and around 5,000 fast chargers across Europe by 2025, with around 9,000 charging locations and over 35,000 fast chargers by 2030.

Customers in other markets will also benefit from a wide charging network, although this is dependent on the local partnerships established. In specific markets, vehicles can also be integrated into the power grid, allowing owners to use vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology to balance the load and potentially receive economic benefits in the process.

“Our electrification journey is quite possibly the most important brick to lay as we start to reveal the future of Stellantis just six months after its birth, and now the entire company is in full execution mode to exceed every customer’s expectations and accelerate our role in redefining the way the world moves,” said Carlos Tavares, CEO of Stellantis.

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