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GM Opens EV Motor Plant – Then Pumps Big Bucks into Conventional Gas Engine Factory

Maker covering all bases.

by on May.18, 2011

The Chevy Sonic will be the next model to get GM's Ecotec four-cylinder engine.

As former General Motors Chairman Bob Lutz liked to say, “there’s no silver bullet” when it comes to finding the cleaner, more fuel-efficient technology for tomorrow’s cars. Instead, he and other industry experts believe that, over the next decade or two, we’ll likely see cars run on a variety of different, increasingly efficient, forms of power.

GM is underscoring that point, this week, with two big announcements covering both conventional and advanced engine technology.

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The maker broke ground, on Tuesday, at what will become the first U.S. plant owned by a major automaker specifically to produce electric motors.  They’ll be used, the maker said, in the next generation of its two-mode hybrid system – which should be both more efficient and less expensive than the current version of that gas-electric driveline.

“Going forward, we want to see these things not only invented in America; we want to see them built in America,” said U.S. Energy Sec. Steven Chu, during a ceremony at the plant, near Baltimore. “And it’s that combination of invented in the U.S., built in the U.S., and sold worldwide that’s going to be the heart of our future.”

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Indiana Aiming to Be EV Central

Why Think thought Indiana was the right site.

by on Apr.07, 2010

Think-ing of you. The Norwegian maker will open an Indiana assembly plant next year.

When the Norwegian electric vehicle maker, Think, started looking for a site to build a U.S. assembly plant, it was deluged by offers from states and communities lined up coast-to-coast.  In the end, it chose the Northern Indiana town of Elkhart for the plant, which will begin rolling out a version of the Think City two-seater next year.

These days, any deal that can deliver jobs and investments is likely to be greeted with gusto – and the offer of government assistance, and the Think project was no exception.  In the end, state and local officials cobbled together a package of assistance worth $43 million for the battery car maker.

That certainly didn’t hurt, admits Think CEO Richard Canny, not for a long-struggling company that had just emerged, a few months earlier, from bankruptcy proection.  But even with what he describes as a “competitive” package of incentives, the executive says that wasn’t the clincher when it came to choosing Elkhart.  “You don’t choose a location just based on incentives,” Canny explains.

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What sold Think was the fact that Elkhart had a pool of experienced labor – workers who were more than happy to get a good-paying job considering that the region’s traditional manufacturing base, the recreational vehicle, or RV, industry, has all but collapsed – along with an existing battery car infrastructure.

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GM Investing $246 Million in Electric Motor Plant

Motors new “core competency” as battery cars gain momentum.

by on Jan.26, 2010

Simple, perhaps, but an electric motor, like this disassembled one, could be critical to winning in tomorrow's battery car market.

With battery technology likely to play an increasing role in the auto industry, General Motors will invest $246 million to set up a plant producing the motors needed to run tomorrow’s electric vehicles, the company plans to announce at this week’s Washington Auto Show.

GM would be the first domestic automaker to produce its own hybrid electric motors, and one of relatively few worldwide.

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Final details, such as the location of the plant, won’t be announced until later this week, but GM officials say that motors must become a “core competency” for the company, much like internal combustion engines are today.  (more…)