Ultium Drive: GMS drive pallet for the fully electric future

Ultium Drive: GMS drive pallet for the fully electric future-drive

For the next generation of electric cars, General Motors intends to use a range of five interchangeable drive units and three motors, which are collectively referred to as “Ultium Drive”. The Ultium Drive propulsion concept is intended to support the US automaker in converting its current portfolio to an all-electric product range. Ultium Drive offers significant advantages over GM’s previous electric vehicles in terms of performance, scalability, speed to market and production efficiency.

Ultium Drive combines electric motors and single-speed transmissions to power the wheels of GM’s upcoming electric cars. The power for this comes from the batteries, also called Ultium. GM will direct the design and development of Ultium Drive’s modular architecture. Ultium Drive responds faster and more directly to the throttle than its gas equivalents and has precise torque control of its motors for smooth power delivery. With the engines within the Ultium Drive series, GM is aiming for an industry-leading torque and power density and wants to equip a wide range of different vehicle types with the drive range.

The performance and versatility of the Ultium drive units should help GM to convert performance-hungry segments such as pick-ups and sports cars to fully electric drives on the one hand and at the same time to expand the range downwards in order to make GM’s electric car portfolio as broad as possible in the future. The Ultium Drive family includes various combinations of front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive, with one or more engines in three different performance levels, including high-performance and off-road capability.

“GM has built transmissions for many well-known car manufacturers. Manufacturing engines, transmissions, driveline components and systems is one of GM’s most well-known and sought-after competencies. Our manufacturing expertise is proving not only transferrable in the transition to electric cars, but also beneficial.— Ken Morris, GM’s vice president of autonomous driving and electric vehicles

GM has applied 25 years of electric car development experience to Ultium Drive. The manufacturer relies on light and efficient design with clever detailed solutions. By integrating the power electronics into the drive unit assemblies, for example, the mass of the power electronics has been reduced by almost 50 percent compared to GM’s previous generation of electric cars, saving costs and space and increasing performance by 25 percent.

Ultium Drive: GMS drive pallet for the fully electric future-electricGeneral Motors

As with GM’s industry-first, almost completely wireless battery management system, this consolidation of parts and functions makes it easier to scale Ultium Drive in GM’s future electric vehicle lineup. GM wants to save vehicle design and production costs by developing Ultium Drive in parallel with the next generation of electric cars. The manufacturer uses in-house know-how to improve efficiency and integrate drive units and engines into future vehicles.

“As with other propulsion systems, which are complex, capital intensive and contain a lot of intellectual property, it is always better to manufacture them yourself. GM’s entire range of electric cars should benefit from the development of Ultium Drive. Our commitment to greater vertical integration is expected to result in additional cost efficiencies.— Adam Kwiatkowski, GM Chief Engineer Global Electrical Propulsion

Most Ultium Drive components, such as castings, gears and assemblies, will be built at GM’s existing global plants, which also produce gas engine parts, on shared and flexible assembly lines, allowing the company to ramp up EV production faster and achieve economies of scale. The production mix is to be adapted to the current market demand.

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