General Motors (GM) reveals new electric vehicle (EV) motors to power an all-electric future

New electric car motors have been designed and developed in-house with GM propulsion software

By
Ian Osborne
September 23, 2021
Category:
EV Life

At the 2021 Mackinac Policy Conference in the USA General Motors’ president Mark Reuss revealed General Motors’ (GM’s) three new motors that will power its Ultium-based electric vehicles (EVs) in the coming years.

These are the first of 30 electric model’s the brand will launch up to 2025, along with a C$1 billion investment to build BrightDrop electric vans in Canada. General Motors are heading into the electric vehicle sphere in a huge way, and rightly, see them as the future.

Designed completely by GM, the 180kW front-wheel-drive motor, 255kW rear- and front-drive motor and 62kW all-wheel-drive assist motor are part of the brand’s Ultium Drive.

GM’s Ultium Drive electric motors will be used by the company as it transitions its current portfolio to a fully electric line-up. The motors were built as a scalable family, sharing design principles as well as similar tooling and manufacturing strategies.  

Mark Reuss, General Motors’ president, said: "Twenty years of electric drive system development and more than 100 years of high-volume vehicle engineering are helping GM pivot quickly from conventional vehicles to EVs

"Our vertical integration in this space, encompassing both hardware and software, helps give us control over our own destiny and a significant competitive advantage."

The 180kW and 255kW units are permanent magnet motors designed to minimise the reliance on heavy rare earth materials, while the 62kW unit is an induction motor. All are expected to offer excellent torque and power density, enabling a wide spectrum of vehicle types, from performance cars to work trucks.

As many as three electric motors can be used in one electric vehicle. For example, variations of the 2022 GM Electric HUMMER will feature three separate 255kW motors, yielding a GM-estimated output of 1,000 horsepower.

GM engineers have also developed the software for Ultium Drive’s motor controllers. This is key to serving the propulsion needs of various vehicle types with a minimal number of components.

These engineers, based at GM’s Global Technical Center in Warren, Michigan, Global Propulsion Systems in Pontiac, Michigan and Milford Proving Ground, are part of the nearly 11,000 GM product development team members currently working in software development. This number is expected to grow with software serving as a critical pillar of GM’s vision of an all-electric future.

The software behind GM's electric vehicle motors can be reused in many applications. This provides fast-to-market times as well as the foundation for future electric vehicles expansion because these motors are versatile enough to provide the power needs for a complete line-up of vehicles.

GM also designed the software of key power electronics components, like the power inverter module or inverter, which converts DC voltage from the battery to AC voltage to power the motor.

GM estimate the electric HUMMER’s 0-60mph (0-97kph) acceleration to be an incredible three seconds. This is largely due to GM’s electric drive software expertise, along with its key competencies in motor controls, power electronics, motor design and development.

The inverter and other power electronics, like the accessory power module and onboard charging module, reside outside of the drive units on GM's current electric vehicles. In Ultium-based vehicles, they will be integrated directly into Ultium Drive units, reducing cost and manufacturing complexity.

The company says that power electronics will have as much as 50 percent less mass and volume than today's GM equivalents, with as much as 25 percent more capability.

GM's all-new electric motors and integrated power electronics, contained within its Ultium Drive units, will debut on the 2022 GM HUMMER electric vehicle later this year. Hopefully, such performance here will help with adoption and the transition to zero-emissions driving.

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