GM debuts its Ultium Drive electric motors

These motors will make their debut on the 1,000-horsepower 2024 GMC Hummer EV.

Kyle Hyatt Former news and features editor
Kyle Hyatt (he/him/his) hails originally from the Pacific Northwest, but has long called Los Angeles home. He's had a lifelong obsession with cars and motorcycles (both old and new).
Kyle Hyatt
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GM's 255-kilowatt Ultium Drive motor may not look special, but its part of a modular motor family that is focused on reducing dependence on rare earth minerals.


made its plans for electrification clear when it unveiled its Ultium battery technology back in 2020. Now, we're getting another peek at what will make Ultium vehicles tick -- sp[ecifically their motors -- thanks to an announcement made on Tuesday by GM.

The new Ultium Drive motors come in three different types: The front-drive motor is a 180-kilowatt unit, while the rear-drive and higher-powered front-drive unit put out 255 kilowatts; both are permanent magnet motors. There's also a third all-wheel drive assist motor that outputs 62 kilowatts, but that's an induction-style motor. 

These motors will underpin all of GM's Ultium EVs for the foreseeable future, including the Hummer EV, which uses three of the 255-kilowatt motors for maximum performance. The other motors can be used in various combinations for different applications -- for example, a small, affordable EV might get the 180-kilowatt unit, while a work truck might get a combination of all three motors.

Unlike GM's current crop of electric vehicles, the Ultium EVs will have more drive components like the onboard charging module and accessory power module built into the Ultium Drive unit itself, simplifying the build process and reducing costs.

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

Of course, motors are only part of the puzzle. An electric vehicle needs software to manage them, and GM has been hard at work on this as well. Like the motors, the software for the Ultium EVs is meant to be modular and scalable, which will allow engineers to apply tweaks for different applications, rather than having to re-engineer the software from the ground up every time, thus reducing the cost even further.

The first Ultium EV to hit dealer showrooms will be the Hummer EV, which is expected to debut later this year.

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