GM to become first US car maker to make electric motors

26 Jan 2010

General Motors (GM) has announced plans to become the first major US car maker to design and make electric motors, saying it believes the electrification of cars in the future will be revolutionary.

The company said today that was investing US$246 million to expand its in-house electric vehicle development and production capabilities.

The GM electric motors will be manufactured at one of the company’s plants in the US.

The first GM-designed and built electric motors are scheduled to debut in 2013 in next-generation, rear-wheel-drive two-mode hybrid technology, the US firm said.

While electric vehicles are powered solely by electric motors, hybrid vehicles also use an internal combustion engine for propulsion.

GM was chosen by the US Department of Energy in August for a US$105-million grant for the construction of US manufacturing capabilities to produce electric motors and related electric drive components.

GM said it has been building its in-house capability to design and make electric motors for years and said it had also developed a state-of-the-art math-based design and computing capacity for electric motors.

Electrification of the car is revolutionary
“Electric motor innovation supported the first wave of automotive growth a century ago with the electric starter, which eliminated the need for a hand crank, and revolutionised automotive travel for the customer,” said Tom Stephens, GM vice-chairman, Global Product Operations.

“We think the electrification of today’s automobiles will be just as revolutionary and just as beneficial to our customers. Electric motors will play a huge role in that.

“In the future, electric motors might become as important to GM as engines are now,” Stephens said. “By designing and manufacturing electric motors in-house, we can more efficiently use energy from batteries as they evolve, potentially reducing cost and weight – two significant challenges facing batteries today.

“Our goal is simply to establish GM as a leader in automotive electric motors. We see that leadership as a key enabler – both to our long-term success and to our nation’s move away from oil dependence,” he added.

GM is planning to launch its Chevy Volt hybrid car later this year, which will compete for  market space with the Prius, Toyota’s hybrid vehicle.

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