GM Starts Manufacturing Electric Motors for New Chevrolet Spark EV

General Motors celebrates being the first domestic automaker to build electric motors and drive units in the United States Tuesday, April 16, 2013 at its Baltimore Operations facility (Photo by Mark Finkenstaedt for General Motors)

Until recently most electric motors and drive units in the U.S. have been imported. Yesterday, however, General Motors have celebrated becoming the first U.S.-based car manufacturer to create these key parts in America for the new Chevrolet Spark EV at its Baltimore Operations plant in White Marsh, Md.

“The era of using electricity to help improve performance and fuel economy is already here and the trend is only going to grow,” said Mike Robinson, GM vice president of Sustainability. “Today is further proof GM is leading in the development of electric vehicles that will improve America’s energy security.”

GM engineers designed and developed the Spark EV’s motor and drive unit to provide maximum efficiency and power with world-class reliability. The permanent magnet motor features a unique design to provide precise delivery of power. The Spark EV electric motor will produce 130 hp (100 kW) and 400 lb-ft of torque to deliver acceleration of less than 8 seconds from 0 to 60 mph. The Spark EV will be sold in California and Oregon this summer and sales will expand to Canada, Europe and South Korea later.

“Electric motor development and manufacturing is a critical area of expertise GM has mastered as we grow our portfolio of electric vehicles to address the needs of our global customers.” said Larry Nitz, GM executive director of Vehicle Electrification Engineering.

The 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV (Credit: General Motors)

The 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV (Credit: General Motors)

After refining its expertise in electric motors at a pilot facility in Wixom, Mich., production of electric motors began at White Marsh. Workers at the Baltimore plant completed extensive training on the operation of the sophisticated machines used to configure portions of the electric motor and drive units.

“In Maryland, innovation is something we do well and with our world class work force, we’re in a position to grow Maryland’s Innovation Economy so we can create even more jobs for our hardworking families,” said Gov. Martin O’Malley. “Thanks to the leaders at General Motors, the first electric motors and drive units will be manufactured right here in Maryland. Together, with companies like General Motors leading the way, we must make the better choices to invest in a stronger future: more job creation, more opportunity, and a stronger, growing middle class.”

Conventionally powered vehicles on the road today have a variety of electric motors to power seats, windows, windshield washers and other functions. Electric motors are used in hybrid and electric vehicles to propel the vehicle. Electricity is stored in a battery and feeds power to the electric motor to drive the wheels.

“The motor design was created by American engineers and it’s being manufactured and assembled by American workers,” said plant manager Bill Tiger. “By designing electric motors in Michigan and manufacturing them at Baltimore Operations, GM controls the design, materials and production processes, as well as reducing costs and improving performance, quality, reliability and manufacturability.”

The above story is based on or reprinted from materials provided by General Motors.

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