In its latest break from its storied but perceptually stodgy past, General Motors has renamed its Powertrain division—since 1992 the unit responsible for design, development and manufacturing of engines and transmissions—to GM Global Propulsion Systems. The world’s third-largest automaker believes the new name more accurately reflects the company’s expanding development and deployment of non-traditional drivetrains that, from gasoline-engine hybrids to hydrogen fuel cells, use varying degrees of electrification to propel the vehicle and enhance its efficiency.
Dan Nicholson, Vice President, GM Global Propulsion Systems, said in a statement, “Gone are the days when a gasoline engine and a transmission are designed independently meet a customer’s expectations. Today’s customer is demanding unprecedented technology integration that requires unprecedented engineering and supplier partnerships. The diversity of our propulsion systems requires a name that reflects what we are already working on and delivering to our customers. I believe this will establish an industry trend.”
Nearly half of the Global Propulsion Systems engineering workforce is involved with alternative or electrified propulsion systems, according to GM. Recent model introductions employing advanced drivetrains include the 2016 Chevrolet Volt extended range electric, Chevrolet’s 2017 Bolt EV, and the 2017 Cadillac CT6 plug-in hybrid variant of the luxury brand’s all-new flagship sedan.
After nearly 80 years of seeing its various marketing divisions often designing and developing a distinct and disparate range of engines, GM in 1984 began a process of consolidating its division-centric drivetrain engineering and in 1992 unified all engine and transmission design and development into the Powertrain business unit. Now, 24 years later and with any number of new descriptors for the term “powertrain,” GM said it is embracing the future with the Global Propulsion Systems name.
Adopting the Global Propulsion Systems moniker “is another step on our journey to redefine transportation and mobility,” said Mark Reuss, Executive Vice President, Global Product Development. “Global Propulsion Systems better conveys what we are developing and offering to our customers: an incredibly broad, diverse lineup—ranging from high-tech 3-cylinder gasoline engines to fuel cells, V8 diesel engines to battery electric systems and 6-, 7-, 8-, 9- and 10-speed to continuously variable transmissions.”