Washington, D.C. – General Motors will expand its in-house electric vehicle development capabilities by becoming the first major U.S. automaker to design and manufacture electric motors for hybrid and electric vehicles.
The company said this will lower costs and improve performance, quality, reliability and “manufacturability” of electric motors by controlling design, materials selection, and production processes. The first GM-designed and built electric motors are scheduled to debut in 2013 in its next-generation, rear-wheel drive Two-Mode Hybrid technology.
“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 revolutionized automotive travel for the customer,” said Tom Stephens, vice-chairman of 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. 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.”
GM’s next-generation Two-Mode Hybrid system will use two unique motor designs and an internal combustion engine to provide improved fuel efficiency, when compared with the current hybrid technology used in GM’s full-size pickup trucks and sport-utility vehicles.
The electric motors will be manufactured in the U.S. at a GM facility. The company said it has been building this in-house capability for years, expanding electric motor research and development, design and validation capabilities at facilities in Michigan, Indiana and California.
In August, the U.S. Department of Energy selected GM for a US$105 million grant for the construction of U.S. manufacturing capabilities to produce electric motors and related electric drive components.
In addition to growing its in-house capabilities, GM will continue to purchase and co-design electric motors with suppliers.