The recent growing interest in electric vehicle (EV) and hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) demands for an efficient, reliable and economical motor drive for electric propulsion. However, searching for a suitable traction motor becomes quite involved when vehicle dynamics and system architecture are considered. This paper makes an in-depth investigation on two highly important traction motor characteristics, extended speed range-ability and energy efficiency, from vehicular system perspective. The influences of these two motor drive features on a pure EV, a post-transmission, and two pre-transmission parallel HEV with 20% and 50% hybridization are studied in this paper. Two EV-HEV software packages ‘V-ELPH’ developed by Texas A&M University and ‘ADVISOR’ from NREL are used for simulation purposes. Based on the results in this paper, a systematic method is developed regarding the selection of traction drives for EV and HEV propulsion systems.