Model-based design (MBD) methodology has been intensely evolved in the last decades as a simulation-approach to enhance complex systems development and understanding. It offers great trade-offs when compared to traditional hardware-based techniques by reducing design time and costs due to the reduced risk of implementation errors. It is desired when developing a complex system model to create an accurate plant, capable of offering the designer a reliable platform for system evaluation and control design. In order to have a better understanding of MBD technique, this paper presents the development of an electromagnetic coupling system, which aims smooth engagement control. As part of the MBD implementation loop, it is also presented the electromagnetic and structural simulations performed to estimate the actuator force and return mechanism stiffness coefficient, which were post validated by bench tests. Based on the results, it was possible to develop a highly confident plant model of an electromagnetic actuator and validate it with experiments. The plant is robust enough to be used for further control system development activities.