In about a month’s time, we will finally see the GMC Hummer EV pickup truck, GM’s first crack at a burgeoning electric pickup truck market. But before the final product is revealed, GM is showing the Ultium Drive system that will power it and a swarm of other upcoming EVs. There will be five interchangeable drive units and three electric motors in the lineup, and they will help GM improve performance, scale, speed to market and manufacturing in their “All Electric Future™.”
The full Ultium Drive unit includes at least one of three motors and a single speed transmission. This allows high levels of configurability across the lineup. The GMC Hummer EV, for example, will use two rear motors and a single motor in the front. Another cheaper vehicle may use just a single front motor, calibrated for front wheel drive. Two rear motors are another configuration option, one that may have been hinted in a teaser with a suspiciously Camaro looking electric vehicle outline.
GM has focused heavily on packaging and design for these motors. Integrating the power electronics into the drive units’ assemblies has lowered power unit mass by 50 percent, which saves costs and packaging space while saving weight. EVs are heavy, so saving weight wherever possible is key to increasing range as EVs become more common. We can only imagine the Hummer will be a featherweight.
Unsurprisingly, GM claims their Ultium Drive systems will be more responsive than the equivalent internal combustion engine, due to their instant torque. They will also be capable of impressive torque vectoring, especially in vehicles with two rear motors.
GM’s Ultium Drive systems will be made with globally sourced materials and components, and assembled in existing powertrain production sites. This means much of the motor will probably be made in China to save costs during expensive EV development, but we could also see plants producing LS and LT V8s build these motors too.