Hardware-in-the-loop simulation (HIL) has become an integral component in the electronic development process for testing control functions in the automotive industry. HIL simulation involves operating mechatronic systems, particularly electronic control units (ECUs), in a closed loop with components simulated in real time to test these systems intensively in this virtual environment. After a compact survey of HIL technology, the presentation will focus on the application field of electric drive simulation. First, the established interface levels for e-motor simulation and the related hardware will be presented, including dynamic modeling approaches. Then, the available computation platforms will be considered to visualize the tradeoff between real-time performance, flexibility and simulation fidelity. When matched to the different platforms, the available plant models provide unequal simulation capacities, specially when nonlinear effects are concerned. The relationship between model parameterization and simulation quality is what makes the finite element method (FEM) a valuable approach here. The link between JMAG-RT and dSPACE used for this enables a seamless quality transfer from FEM to HIL simulation with enhanced usability and highly precise real-time simulation results.