GM reveals three new Ultium motors for future EVs

Kalea Hall
The Detroit News

General Motors Co. President Mark Reuss revealed three new motors for the automaker's Ultium-based electric vehicles Tuesday at the 2021 Mackinac Policy Conference.

The motors — a 180-kilowatt front-drive motor, a 255-kW rear and front-drive motor, and a 62-kW all-wheel-drive assist motor — are designed in-house by GM and "built as a scalable family, sharing design principles as well as similar tooling and manufacturing strategies," GM said

Mark Reuss.

"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,” Reuss said at the conference sponsored by the Detroit Regional Chamber. "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 motors can be used on a "wide spectrum of vehicle types, from performance cars to work trucks," GM said. GM engineers also have developed software for Ultium Drive’s motor controllers, which GM says is key to delivering "the propulsion needs of various vehicle types with a minimal set of components."

GM used artificial intelligence and machine learning to determine the most efficient ways to distribute torque in three-motor systems. And the software on GM's EV motors can be reused in other applications from a complete lineup of vehicles to power electronics components like the power inverter module.

GM's all-new EV motors and integrated power electronics, within Ultium Drive units, will debut on the 2022 GMC Hummer EV later this year. GM introduced Ultium Drive, which includes five drive units and three motors, last year.

The Ultium Drive components will be built with globally sourced parts at GM’s existing global propulsion facilities, which will allow the company to more quickly ramp up EV production and adjust production mix to match market demand.

The announcement came the same day as the opening of Motor Bella, the Detroit Auto Dealers Association auto event happening at M1 Concourse in Pontiac, where GM is displaying its Hummer EV SUV. 

GM aims to build an electric future on its Ultium technology as it battles a recall on its only current electric products: the Chevrolet Bolt EV and Bolt EUV, which do not run on Ultium technology. 

GM said on Monday its battery supplier LG Energy Solution has started making batteries again for the Bolts and replacement modules for recalled Bolts should start to be shipped to dealers by mid-October. 

The automaker and LG found two rare defects in battery cells: a torn anode tab and folded separator that are said to have occurred during the manufacturing process. GM says it will cost $1.8 billion to fix the problems. GM and LG are evaluating who covers the expense. 

GM has been reviewing LG's manufacturing process for weeks to understand how the defects occurred. 

"I couldn't be more proud of them. And I got to say the effort was extraordinary," Reuss said at the policy conference.  "And that effort was all centered around the customer. And so, we can't miss with a solution on something like this."

GM is partnered with LG on the creation of multiple battery cell plants for its Ultium-powered EVs. The first battery cell plant in northeast Ohio by the companies' joint venture, Ultium Cells LLC, will be ready by early next year. 

Reuss, noting he recently went to GM's Brownstown Ultium battery plant, added: "We are going to be much stronger from a capability and what we deliver the customer, we're going to be much stronger. You got to use these opportunities to really learn."

The first Ultium product will be the Hummer EV truck out later this year, followed by the Cadillac Lyriq coming next year. 

"I feel good about this," Reuss said. "I really do. I feel good about what we're gonna put into production very shortly on the Hummer and ... Lyriq. And we've taken all of this and really done the due diligence and taken our time, as fast as we could, to protect the customer and get it dialed in and get it right."

Twitter: @bykaleahall