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GM To Manufacture Electric Motors; First GM Motors Will Go Into Next-Gen Two-Mode Hybrid in 2013

An electric traction motor (right) and stator (left) at the GM Powertrain Engineering Development Center Friday, 15 January 2010 in Pontiac, Michigan. (Photo by John F. Martin for General Motors) Click to enlarge.

Noting that power electronics and electric machine technology as well as battery technology will be core to General Motors in its multiple paths to vehicle electrification, Tom Stephens, GM Vice Chairman, Global Product Operations announced that the company will expand its in-house electric vehicle development capabilities by becoming the first major US automaker to design and manufacture electric motors.

By doing so, Stephens said, GM will lower cost 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 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.

GM will invest some $246 million in the next-generation hybrid system and a manufacturing site for the motors, and will announce the new site and specifics later this week.

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.

—Tom Stephens

GM 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. GM also has developed state-of-the-art math-based design and computing capacity for electric motors.

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

In a briefing, Pete Savagian, GM Engineering Director, Hybrid and Electric Architecture and Electric Motors, said that four things related to electric motors really matter to customers:

  • Power density. Savagian said that automotive electric motors will need about twice the power density of motors applied in machine tool drives. The company’s expertise with transmission development will help with the overall packaging, he noted.

  • Noise, vibration and harshness (NVH). “A lot of subtlety in the electromagnetic design gets us there.

  • Quality and reliability. Comparable to that of an elevator—i.e., it doesn’t fail.

  • Affordability.

GM has been making investments since 2003 in design, development process and validation capabilities. Click to enlarge.

GM’s position is that exceptional power density, NVH, high reliability, and affordability with motors is only achievable by understanding and engaging the entire electric motor value chain—e.g.., down to the manufacture of the component wires. By designing and manufacturing motors itself, GM can control the design, manufacturability, materials selection and production processes.

GM will also continue to work with the best electric motor suppliers; it will not make all of the motors, but it will make some of them—and analagous strategy to other core electrification technologies.

Initially, GM is committing to building all the motors for the next-generation two-mode transmission. For the other programs, including extended range electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids, hybrids, and battery electric vehicles—which GM has been studying—the company may decide to buy the motors from other suppliers, or might elect to make them.

Different applications will call for different types of motor technology. For example, a motor used as a generator in an extended range electric vehicle is mostly going to generate off the shaft—it has to be very efficient and run at very low speed, Savagian said. For that, GM would think of a high-flux permanent magnet motor. For motors within hybrid applications that run at medium torques or in a medium speed range, GM would look at lower flux permanent magnet type motors. Motors for a BAS (belt alternator starter) application run at high speed frequently, and a different technology would be appropriate. Just as automakers now have a set of core engines, they will likely have a set of core powertrain motors.


Will S

Good to hear that they are focusing on PHEV/BEV/HEVs as a strategic target. Hope they are able to acquire the rare earth minerals locally that China is threatening to ban the export of.


Just go inductive and forget the rare earth magnets.


Rare earth materials may not be so rare in the not-to-distant future: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091215101708.htm


They need to swap the stator and the rotor. Take a look at what the model airplanes and cars are doing. Efficiency 90+.


This is amazing. Hard to imagine a company less likely to make such a sudden switch in direction. It appears they are making a major change in direction.


???? Can GM somehow design better motors than the best electric motor suppliers, build plant, and produce them cheaper with UAW employees?

The article does say they won't make all their motors. So their motives may go beyond build better motors cheaper.

And this may be one motive.

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

Perhaps they figure they can keep federal money flowing in indefinitely to help them build the motors.


Appearently GM plans to build electric powertrains and repay debt again. http://www.greencarcongress.com/2010/01/whitacre-20100125.html#more

Sometimes it seems like executives become privy to corporate secrets and are then paid $millions not to leave.

Per Wiki, "..Whitacre's compensation for 2006 totaled $61 million.. Upon retirement, Whitacre was eligible for a $158 million payout from AT&T.."

Most large corporations are owned by many thousands of small stockholders, but try finding their signatures on weekly million dollar executive paychecks.

Quick, for the record, specifically list here what an executive could do worth honestly charging stockholders over $30,000 per hour - besides taking many $millions to leave the firm:


"Quick, for the record, specifically list here what an executive could do worth honestly charging stockholders over $30,000 per hour..."

Make strategic core business decisions that increase share price/dividends. Some actors and athletes get the same rate and they make purely creative decisions.

I expect that if unions must be a part of GM's new business - IBEW will want to be involved. Credit the Silicon Valley Tesla entrepreneurs and Bob Lutz for sparking this turnaround.



In order to pick and validate the best outside supplies you need internal expertise. Until GM has some production of their own in this new field for GM they will not have the needed experts. GM, Ford and others outsource up to 80% of all the work that is needed to make a car and this will also be the case in the future.


"Hope they are able to acquire the rare earth minerals locally that China is threatening to ban the export of."

China is already outcast as a climate skeptic, world's biggest polluter and human rights violator. Hoarding resources needed to help the Earth "go green" is not an accusation their State department can afford.



Maybe they will use the grant money from the Feds to pay back debt to the Feds. :-)


Henrik and JMartin:


I don't see that they have to produce motors in order to pick ...and validate the best, etc.

IMO it won't hurt but the benefits of actual production seem nebulous. We can watch, all auto makers face such decisions.


The money flows to and from Washington are now probably incomprehensible. Apparently the Fed and Treasury were befuddled even before O took office. And a dozen departments and agencies such as DOE make awards for hundreds if not thousands of reasons.

Hope this posts. Sometimes I cannot post at GCC and cannot detect see a reason.


Sulleny, so when stock/dividend prices fall after executive decisions they repay the losses and their (if $30,000/hour) pay to the stockholders.

Right, that list is as non-existent as your first list.

Unless IPO'ed, actors and atheletes aren't legally obligated to stockholders. Exorbitant, often self/cross voted, executive pay harms all stockholders always.


Until you have shareholder having something to say about executive compensation, you will have them looting the company. There was a bill to have that, but it was defeated years ago.

One billion shares outstanding and a mutual fund has 10%, they get a seat on the board of 12 people and still can not have an effect. Until we get corporate governance TRULY accountable to shareholders we will ALWAYS have the "agency" problem.



Perhaps the American people have decided, voted, paid, and enforced an executive's pay ceiling for hundreds of years.

"The President earns a $400,000 annual salary, along with a $50,000 annual expense account, a $100,000 non-taxable travel account and $19,000 for entertainment.", Wiki.

Do stockholder really believe their company executives are more important and to be paid more than the US President?

Do stockholders want corporate executives who will only work for more than the US President?

Should stockholders want corporate executives who will only work for more than the US President?

ANY corporate executive who can't work for less than the US President isn't putting the stockholder's interest first anyway, are they?


There are 1 million MBAs in the country and I am sure that the Fortune 1000 companies could find capable executives that would work for less than $60 million per year. However the board feels that only a few chosen people can really do the job. If their competitor pays $40 million, they will pay $50 million...no cheapskates they!


I don't know why stockholders put up with the enormous executive salaries,
1. For large companies, the top executive’s salary can be inconsequential (but very irritating, so see #3).

2. The top executive, like a star athlete, can be replaced if deemed “not worth it” - in most cases –(But in many cases, I think it might be just a group of “good old boys” that cannot be fired - outrageous, so see #3).

3. If you don’t like the setup, you do NOT have to be a shareholder or contributor – Yes Edward E. Whitacre, Dennis Rodman and Lady Ga Ga make much, much more than the president – just don’t YOU contribute, and get over it.

4. Fret over and DO something about our elected politicians giving away OUR money .


As long as the dividends and stock prices come in, many shareholders don't care. The company could employ 1000 truly productive people for what they pay the CEO.

Ben and Jerry's made a ratio of 20 to 1 maximum between lowest and highest paid people. They were told that they would never find a CEO that would take $400,000 per year.

They had many good candidates to chose from. It is about time we had a bit of competition in the executive ranks.


No response allowed..


Maybe: "However the board .. If their competitor pays $40 million, they will pay $50 million...no cheapskates they!" - The 'board' is typically overpaid executives just overpaying themselves again!


"3. If you don’t like the setup, you do NOT have to be a shareholder or contributor – .. just don’t YOU contribute, and get over it." - My (your, OUR) banks, insurance firms,
etc invest in these overpaid companies. Your a contributor without your consent, whether YOU know it or not!


cont.."As long as the dividends and stock prices come in, many shareholders don't care." - So shareholders (people) don't care about being cheated, $4/gallon gas, etc - WRONG!

Corporations don't begin with a first thousand dollar sale, but million dollar executives. Yet it seems executives found the "let them eat cake" attitude.


..What is this corporate executive worship? They have more responsibility/pay than the US President? With cheap gas, even an auto executive can look good while bankrupting. Who was Time's 1938 'Man of the Year'?

Might as well send this/any MBA "don't care" money "and get over it".


Its simple realy. Any old twit wants to be pres no matter the salary most powerful intelligent people capable of realy running a company are already rather wealthy and wont put in the horrid hours to run your stupid company unless you pay em a bloody fortune. Otherwise they will form thier own compnay and burry you.


I'm with Toppa on this. You don't like how the company's run - don't buy it. BTW, the CEO of the UK Met Office, raked in an enormous bonus last year AND his salary is greater than the PM. Both are government jobs. The Met Office is the "climate center" that couldn't even predict the December nationwide freeze.

And then there is this sweet bit of U.S. government largess:

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