In a bid to reduce development costs and bring vehicles to dealerships sooner, General Motors is using simulation software to develop software control systems for all of its future powertrains. This method of development allows GM to emulate control systems before being stuck with expensive hardware that doesn't suit its needs, especially in the case of hybrids where the systems must be closely integrated.

Unlike conventional combustion engines, hybrid powertrains must be integrated from the beginning to ensure that everything will run smoothly. Because of this, developing hybrid powertrains can become expensive when minor faults manifest themselves, costing the manufacturer dearly in labor and hardware costs.

Using a program called MathWorks, GM is able to design and develop two-mode hybrid powertrains, as well as conventional powertrains, without spending money on expensive hardware. According to Automotive News, the technology allows GM to cut weeks off development time for its models. The system is also used by a number of other auto manufacturers such as Toyota, and allows companies to save significant amounts of money by developing products in the virtual world.

The software also eliminates the need for numerous prototypes to be constructed, and allows the manufacturer to develop new vehicle architectures, models and make important product decisions without ever building a real-world model.