This study covers various aspects of powertrain systems for battery electric vehicles with main focus on front axes driven vehicles. A brief comparison of conventional and electrical powertrain regarding the driveability issues is presented in order to indicate the performance benefits of electrical machines into the vehicle applications. System level differences between internal combustion engine and electrical machine are given. As the most commonly used electrical machine types, a comparison of induction machine and interior permanent magnet synchronous machine is given. Main features of motor drives in industrial and electric vehicle applications are compared and system integration issues are discussed As case study, electric version of FIAT New Doblo is presented including the test results on acceleration performance. Impact of vehicle weight on traction power demand is analysed both analytically and experimentally. Important research and development fields for motor drives in electric vehicles are highlighted considering the cost reduction, efficiency and reliability issues in automotive.