GM has revealed a group of three new motors that will power its upcoming Ultium-based EVs. The new motors, part of the Ultium Drive platform, were designed and calibrated in-house by GM. They share design principles as well as similar tooling and manufacturing strategies.
The new happy family consists of a 180 kW front-drive motor, a 255 kW rear- and front-drive motor, and a 62 kW all-wheel-drive assist motor. The 180 and 255 kW units are permanent magnet motors designed with the aim of minimizing reliance on rare-earth materials, and the 62 kW unit is an induction motor. All are expected to be used in a wide variety of vehicle types, from performance cars to work trucks.
As many as three electric motors can be used in one EV—variations of the 2022 GMC HUMMER EV will feature three separate 255 kW motors, yielding an estimated output of 1,000 hp.
GM has been bulking up on software expertise—it now has nearly 11,000 product development team members working in software development, and this number is projected to grow. GM’s engineers developed the software for Ultium Drive’s motor controllers, with a focus on serving the propulsion needs of various vehicle types with a minimal set of components.
The team used computer-assisted and virtual engineering to reduce development time. AI and machine learning helped them determine the most efficient ways to distribute torque in three-motor systems, such as the one used in the HUMMER EV, which is designed to allow the giant to perform well both off-road and on city streets.
GM also designed the software for key power electronics components such as the power inverter module. The inverter and other power electronics, including the accessory power module and onboard charging module, reside outside of the drive units on GM’s current EVs. In Ultium-based vehicles, they will be integrated directly into Ultium Drive units, reducing cost and manufacturing complexity.
The power electronics of GM’s Ultium-based EVs will be integrated directly into the Ultium Drive units, reducing costs, weight and manufacturing complexity while increasing reliability. The inverter and other power electronics like the accessory power module and onboard charging module will reside within boxes such as this inside GM’s Ultium Drive units.
Some of the power electronics will have as much as 50 percent less mass and volume than GM’s current components, while delivering as much as 25 percent more capability.
“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,” said GM President Mark Reuss at the recent 2021 Mackinac Policy Conference. “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 new EV motors and integrated power electronics are slated to debut on the 2022 HUMMER EV later this year.