GM Invests $246 Million to Build Electric Motors In-House, Make Them Smaller & More Efficient


Photo: GM
Production Begins in 2013 in Baltimore
It's becoming more obvious with each passing year that the transportation industry will have to change radically during the next couple of decades. Part of it will be the improvement of alternatives to cars (fast and efficient transit, more bike paths, walkable cities, telecommuting), but a big part of the improvement will come from electrification (and the cleaning up of the power grid in parallel). This means that auto makers need to develop new expertises and form new partnerships. This has already happened to a large extent when it comes to battery technology, and it's now starting to happen with electric motors.
Image: GM

GM writes: "By doing so, GM 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 next-generation, rear-wheel-drive Two-mode Hybrid technology." The production will take place in Baltimore, at a transmission plant.

They're the first big US auto manufacturer to do so (though smaller ones like Tesla Motors are already doing it).

This will be good for hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and electric cars. Making an "ok" electric motors isn't very hard, but making a really good one that is perfectly adapted to the specific operating conditions of a vehicle (vibrations, all kinds of temperatures, etc) while keeping weight down and efficiency high is harder and requires more R&D.;

Green Car Congress writes:

The expected improvement in power density in the GM-designed and built motors for the longitudinal application of the two-mode hybrid--on a per motor basis, these machines are about 25% smaller, output is about 20% higher, and efficiency is up--will allow its application in a range of vehicles smaller than the full-size trucks and SUVs in which it is applied today, including cars.

This could also help lower the cost of these motors. This probably wouldn't have a huge impact on the price of a hybrid or electric car since it's the battery that costs the most, but I'm sure that no auto maker would pass up on a way to increase margins.

Via GM (1), GM (2)

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Tags: Electric Cars | Electric Vehicles | Transportation