General Motors has now revealed technical details of the three new Ultium Drive electric motors announced in 2020 that will power GM’s next-generation electric cars. Specifically, these are two permanent magnet motors and one induction motor.
Exactly one year ago, the US carmaker announced that it would add a series of five drive units and three motors to its Ultium modular battery system and its electric car platform of the same name under the name Ultium Drive, and that it would not only develop but also build all of them itself. Now GM is following up with technical data. Two of the machines will be permanent magnet motors – one with 180 kW power for front installation, the other with 255 kW for front and/or rear installation. The third motor in the bunch is a smaller 62 kW induction motor to assist with four-wheel drives.
The three motors are designed as a scalable family, according to a General Motors statement, sharing common design principles and similar tooling and manufacturing strategies. They are intended to be suitable for a wide range of vehicle types – “from high-performance vehicles to trucks”, according to the company’s headquarters. Already a year ago, GM emphasised that it expected the new engines to offer significant advantages in terms of performance, scalability, speed to market and production efficiency.
According to the developers, great importance was attached to reducing the complexity and costs of the engines. For example, the company has dispensed with a multi-gear transmission and combines the units only with a “single-speed gearbox”. Also, unlike GM’s current electric vehicles, inverters and other power electronics, such as the accessory power supply module and the onboard charging module, are integrated directly into the Ultium drive units. Basically, “some power electronics are said to have up to 50 per cent less mass and volume than today’s GM equivalents, with up to 25 per cent more power,” GM continues. In-house software for the motor controls was also developed.
“Twenty years of electric drive system development and more than 100 years of high-volume vehicle development experience are helping GM make the rapid transition from conventional vehicles to electric vehicles,” emphasises GM President Mark Reuss. “Our vertical integration in this area, encompassing both hardware and software, helps us control our own destiny and gain a significant competitive advantage.”
The first Group representative with an Ultium Drive powertrain on board will be the GMC Hummer EV, scheduled for later this year. It will be equipped with three separate 255 kW engines and, according to GM’s latest announcement, will have a system output of around 1,000 hp (equivalent to around 735 kW) in its most powerful versions. The company quotes the sprint from 0 to 100 km/h at around three seconds.
The US carmaker had announced the flexible Ultium platform with the batteries and powertrains of the same name in March 2020. Then in November 2020, GM had announced it would accelerate its electric vehicle plans (30 BEV models by 2025) and also vowed to increase its investment in electric and automated driving vehicles from $20 billion to $27 billion by 2025. As a concrete measure, the market launch of the Cadillac Lyriq has been brought forward from late 2022 to early 2022. The electric Cadillac is also built on the new EV-platform and will be available with both rear- and all-wheel drive.
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