GM Warren Transmission Plant to build electric drive unit for second-gen Volt; part of $300M investment in Michigan through end of year
Later today at the Detroit Economic Club, General Motors CEO Mary Barra will confirm that its Warren Transmission Plant will build the new electric drive unit—the GM Voltec 4ET50 Multi-Mode EDU—for the upcoming second-generation Chevrolet Volt. As a result, most major Volt powertrain components—from the battery cells to the new 1.5-liter range-extending engine—will be made in Michigan, establishing the state as the company’s global engineering center of excellence for vehicle electrification. The new Volt will debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January 2015.
The drive unit for the first-generation Volt consists of two motors—a 111 kW main traction and 63 kW (at 4800 rpm) generator motor (55 kW generator output)—as well as three clutches and a planetary gear set tucked in the end of the traction motor that improve overall efficiency by reducing the combined rotational speed of the electric motors as needed. (Earlier post.) GM will subsequently be providing details of the second-generation drive unit.
Barra will also announce capital investments of nearly $300 million in Michigan between now and the end of the year. The Detroit News reported that Warren Transmission will receive $240 million of that. GM has invested approximately $1.82 billion in capital in projects dedicated specifically to vehicle electrification since 2009, including:
GM’s Brownstown Township facility is the country’s first high-volume lithium-ion battery pack manufacturing site operated by a major automaker.
The Chevrolet Volt and Cadillac ELR are assembled at GM’s Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant.
GM’s Flint Engine Operations will build the 1.5-liter, four-cylinder range extender for the Volt. The unit is part of an all-new engine family.
Warren Transmission will build the GM Voltec 4ET50 Multi-Mode Electric Drive Unit, which allows the Volt to drive in pure electric or extended range electric mode.
Battery cells for the Volt and ELR are produced by LG Chem in Holland, Mich., and the Volt’s vehicle’s electric motors will also be made in the United States. LG Chem will be supplying cells for the second-generation Volt as well.
Within the first year of production, about 70% of the Volt’s parts will be made in the United States or Canada, which GM believes is the most for a plug-in or conventional hybrid.
We must provide the breakthrough technology that our customers want. Our investments in the Chevy Volt and Michigan signify our commitment to lead the industry in technology and innovation.—Mary Barra
GM has sold 69,092 units of the Volt in the US since launch in late 2010. After a relatively fast ramp-up to 23,461 units in 2012 followed by a slight drop to 23,094 units in 2013, Volt sales have slumped for the first nine months of this year relative to 2013 performance. (By contrast, sales of the Nissan LEAF for the first nine months of this year are outperforming its 2013 results over the same period.)
GM says that since the Volt was launched in 2010, Volt owners driving in pure electric mode have helped reduce gasoline consumption by more than 25 million gallons. Based on a GM study of more than 300 2011-2012 model year Volts in service in California, many owners exceed the EPA-rated label of 35 miles (56 km) of EV range per full charge, with about 15% surpassing 40 miles (64 km) of range.
Volt owners who charge regularly typically drive more than 970 miles (1,561 km) between fill-ups and refuel less than once a month. The 2014 Volt provides owners with EPA-estimated fuel economy of 98 MPGe (electric) and 35 mpg city/40 mpg highway on gasoline power.
Nearly 70 percent of Volt buyers are new to GM. The Toyota Prius is the most frequently traded-in vehicle for a Volt.
And despite the results so far for this year, GM points out that Volt is currently the most successful plug-in electric vehicle in the United States; LEAF’s cumulative sales total 63,944 units.