General Motors Corporation (GM) announced on Jan. 26, 2010 that it will invest about $246 million in its facilities in Baltimore, Md., for manufacturing electric motors and electric drives. This includes construction of a high-volume electric drive production facility at the Baltimore Transmission plant, which will produce electric motors for GM’s rear-wheel-drive hybrid technology starting in 2013. The factory will be the first electric motor manufacturing facility in the United States to be operated by a major automaker. In August, the U.S. Department of Energy selected GM for a $105 million grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for the construction of U.S. manufacturing capabilities to produce electric motors and related electric drive components.
GM also had a strong presence at the Washington Auto Show, which ran from January 27 to 31 in Washington, D.C. As part of the event, GM announced that the D.C. area will be one of three initial launch markets (along with Michigan and California) for the Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric vehicle. GM also announced a development and demonstration vehicle charging program with two D.C.-area utilities. The project is part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Transportation Electrification Initiative, using $30 million in Recovery Act funds.
The company also unveiled the North American production version of the high-efficiency Chevrolet Cruze, which goes on sale later this year. The Cruze features a new Ecotec 1.4-liter turbocharged engine that delivers up to 40 miles per gallon on the highway. Providing some competition for GM, Wheego Electric Cars unveiled the full-speed Wheego Whip LiFe, which runs on lithium-ion batteries and is expected to be available by mid-2010.
The show also featured ethanol produced from paper. This product was the result of a partnership between enzyme maker Novozymes and Fiberight, which developed the technology and used it to power two flex-fuel vehicles.