General Motors has released new details about the Ultium Drive family of drive units and motors that will power its next-generation electric vehicles.
Consisting of five interchangeable drive units and three motors, Ultium Drive is said to provide “significant advantages over GM’s previous EVs in performance, scale, speed to market and manufacturing efficiencies”.
Ultium Drive combines electric motors and single-speed transmissions to apply power generated by Ultium battery cells to the wheels of GM’s upcoming electric vehicles. GM will lead the design, development and manufacturing of Ultium Drive’s modular architecture which which will help the company transition its current portfolio to a fully electric lineup.
The electric motors within Ultium Drive are expected to offer “industry-leading torque and power density across a wide spectrum of different vehicle types” while being more responsive than their internal combustion equivalents. Ultium Drive will also offer precision torque control of its motors for smooth performance.
“GM has built transmissions for many notable automakers. Making motors, transmissions, driveline components and systems are among GM’s best-known competencies, and our manufacturing expertise is proving not only transferable but advantageous as we make the transition to EVs,” said Ken Morris, GM vice president, Autonomous and Electric Vehicle Programs.
The U.S. automaker says it has applied 25 years of EV experience to Ultium Drive, developing lighter and more efficient designs that feature clever integration. For example, by integrating the power electronics into the drive units’ assemblies, the mass of the power electronics has been reduced by nearly 50 percent from GM’s previous EV generation. This is said to saves costs and packaging space while increasing capability by 25 percent.
As with GM’s almost completely wireless battery management system, this consolidation of parts and features will make it easier to scale Ultium Drive across the carmaker’s future EV lineup. Additionally, the power and versatility of these drive units will help GM migrate high-output segments like pickup trucks and performance vehicles to all-electric propulsion.
GM’s Ultium Drive family will cover front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive propulsion combinations, including high-performance and off-road capabilities. All five drive units are expected to be powered by one or more of three motors, including a primary front-wheel drive motor, which can be configured for front- or rear-wheel drive, and an all-wheel drive assist motor.
GM says that most of the Ultium Drive components, including castings, gears and assemblies, will be built with globally sourced parts at its existing global propulsion facilities. They will be made on shared, flexible assembly lines, allowing the company to more quickly ramp up its EV production, achieve economies of scale and adjust its production mix to match market demand.