GM Stakes Powertrain Future on Ultium
Nov. 16, 2020—General Motors’ 3800 V6 was a solid, versatile power plant that graced the engine bays of so many Buicks, Pontiacs, Oldsmobiles and other models.
In transitioning to a future with electric powertrains, GM is looking to replicate that success with a suite of battery packs and motors that can be deployed into any necessary model. It is the Ultium Drive.
Like the other North American automakers, GM had a massively successful third quarter, which will help accelerate its equally ambitious investments in EV production. The Ultium power plant is part of the Hummer EV, and it will likely find its way into splashy sports cars and commuters in the future.
What is Ultium?
The modular Ultium system includes multiple motor choices, which put out anywhere between 235 and 1,000 hp, depending on the combination. There are five interchangeable drive units and three motors total within Ultium, according to GM. The system can be configured for all-wheel, front-wheel or rear-wheel-drive vehicles.
The drive units have integrated power electronics, which the company says makes them more efficient.
“...by integrating the power electronics into the drive units’ assemblies, the mass of the power electronics has been reduced by nearly 50 percent from GM’s previous EV generation, saving cost and packaging space while increasing capability by 25 percent,” according to GM.
This is an advancement from the propulsion system in current models like the Chevrolet Bolt, according to GM Authority.
GM set up a joint venture with LG Chem called Ultium Cells LLC, which will produce the battery cells for Ultium Drive.
The company announced on Nov. 5 that it’s looking for 1,100 workers to fill its battery plant in Lordstown, Ohio. It’s part of a $2.3 billion investment in the facility, which will be the size of 30 football fields and will have an annual capacity to produce more than 30 gigawatt hours, GM says.
Other big manufacturing activity from GM includes Factory ZERO, formerly the Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Center, and the transition of a plant in Spring Hill, Tenn., to produce EVs like the Cadillac LYRIQ.