GM has announced plans to build its own electric drive motors for future hybrid and electric vehicles, making it the first major U.S. automaker to claim in-house design, engineering, and manufacturing of this key technology.
The announcement was made January 26 by Tom Stephens, GM Vice Chairman of Global Product Operations, at the company’s Baltimore transmission plant in White Marsh, MD, where the electric motors will be produced. Maryland’s U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski, state governor Martin O’Malley, and various federal, state, and local officials attended the plant announcement.
The Baltimore plant currently builds the Two Mode hybrid transmission originally developed by GM’s former Allison division and currently used in hybrid-electric SUVs and pickups made by GM, BMW, and Mercedes. The new permanent-magnet motors’ first application will be in the next generation of the Two Mode hybrid transmission, slated to launch in CY2013, to support 2014 vehicle models.
Stephens compared the importance of GM making its own electric-drive motors for future hybrid and electric vehicles to producing its own internal-combustion engines for today’s conventional cars and trucks. He said that by designing and manufacturing electric motors in-house, GM “can more efficiently use energy from batteries as they evolve, potentially reducing cost and weight – two significant challenges facing batteries today.”
GM since 2003 has been developing its new electric motors at various R&D facilities in Michigan, Indiana, and California. Tooling for the Baltimore plant’s electric-motor line will be covered primarily by a $105 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. Total investment in the e-motor program to date is $246 million.