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Development time of GM hybrid vehicles cut with simulation tools

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General Motors (GM) has developed its Two-Mode Hybrid powertrain control system 24 months earlier than expected using maths and simulation-based software tools. GM designed the powertrain prototype within nine months using Model-Based Design tools from The MathWorks, including Matlab and Simulink.

The Two-Mode Hybrid powertrain is part of GM's diverse hybrid program, with multiple hybrid and electric vehicle technologies designed to meet various driving patterns and needs. Created to optimise fuel efficiency in both city and highway driving, the Two-Mode Hybrid powertrain combines a conventional engine with two 60kW electric motors integrated into an automatic transmission, and it integrates with new components such as battery and power electronics.

GM adopted Model-Based Design tools to allow engineers, with diverse engineering backgrounds, to collaborate better. By using Matlab and Simulink, GM engineers could work in a single environment to model the behaviour of the Two-Mode Hybrid powertrain mathematically, design the software and simulate the entire system model to accurately predict and optimise performance. This helped the global development team communicate requirements and design changes and address errors earlier in the design process, saving valuable time and resources.

'Our corporate philosophy is to move to improve fuel economy and reduce emissions as a way to develop sustainable transportation,' said Larry Nitz, GM executive director of hybrid and electric powertrains. 'Model-Based Design allowed us to visualise the powertrain, which helped us design smarter and integrate the powertrain, a critical part of our hybrid roadmap, into our vehicles faster.'

The Two-Mode Hybrid powertrain system is currently in production in the GMC Sierra Hybrid, GMC Yukon Hybrid, Chevy Tahoe Hybrid, Chevy Silverado Hybrid, and Cadillac Escalade Hybrid vehicles.