GM is Betting on Electric Motors

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General Motors is investing $246 million in electric motors and electric drive manufacturing facilities in the U.S.

According to Tom Stephens, GM’s vice president for global vehicle operations, the automaker’s electric motor initiative will create at least 200 new jobs.

“In the future, electric motors might become as important to GM as engines are right now,” Stephens said in a statement issued this week. “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.”

Electric motors under development will be smaller, more powerful and more energy efficient, Stephens added.

The first GM electric motors will be used in the next generation of rear-wheel-drive full hybrid vehicles, including the Chevrolet Tahoe hybrid SUV, beginning in 2013.

GM was awarded a $105 million grant by the U.S. Department of Energy in August for the construction of U.S. manufacturing facilities to produce electric motors and drive components. In January, GM announced the initiation of lithium-ion battery production at a plant in Brownstown, MI. Batteries made in the plant will be used in the Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle, which is slated to be on the market before the end of this year.

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