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GM to lead design, development and manufacturing of own family of next-generation EV drive units and motors: Ultium Drive

General Motors announced that it will design, develop and manufacture a family of five interchangeable electric drive units and three motors, known collectively as “Ultium Drive.” GM said that Ultium Drive and its modular architecture will help it transition to a fully electric lineup, and provide significant advantages over GM’s previous EVs in performance, scale, speed to market and manufacturing efficiencies.

Ultium-Drive-Family-2

Ultium Drive family. General Motors’ next-generation EVs are expected to be powered by a family of five interchangeable drive units and three motors, known collectively as “Ultium Drive.”


Ultium Drive combines electric motors and single-speed transmissions to apply power—generated by Ultium battery cells (earlier post)—to the wheels of GM’s upcoming electric vehicles.

Ultium Drive will be more responsive than its internal combustion equivalents with precision torque control of its motors for smooth performance. GM expects these motors within Ultium Drive to offer industry-leading torque and power density across a wide spectrum of different vehicle types.

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.

—Ken Morris, GM vice president, Autonomous and Electric Vehicle Programs

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Ultium Drive motors. Ultium Drive will be powered by three motors that have industry-leading torque and power density across a wide spectrum of different vehicle types.


GM applied 25 years of EV experience to Ultium Drive with 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% from GM’s previous EV generation, saving cost and packaging space while increasing capability by 25%.

Like GM’s industry-first almost completely wireless battery management system, this consolidation of parts and features also makes it easier to scale Ultium Drive across GM’s future EV lineup.

The power and versatility of these drive units will help GM migrate high-output segments such as pickup trucks and performance vehicles to all-electric propulsion while providing the bandwidth to propel GM’s EV portfolio well into the future.

The GM Ultium Drive family covers 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 will save on vehicle design and production costs by developing Ultium Drive alongside its next generation of EVs, leveraging internal expertise to improve efficiency and fit drive units and motors into future vehicles.

As with other propulsion systems that are complex, capital intensive and contain a great deal of intellectual property, we’re always better off making them ourselves. GM’s full lineup of EVs should benefit from the simultaneous engineering of Ultium Drive. Our commitment to increased vertical integration is expected to bring additional cost efficiency to the performance equation.

—Adam Kwiatkowski, GM executive chief engineer, Global Electrical Propulsion

Most of the Ultium Drive components, including castings, gears and assemblies, will be built with globally sourced parts at GM’s existing global propulsion facilities 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.

All GM electric vehicles built on the Ultium platform will be powered by Ultium Drive, providing GM’s next-generation EVs with remarkable flexibility and modularity.

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