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The First Electric Motor Plant Owned by a Major U.S. Automaker

General Motors has begun construction on its new $269.5 million electric motor manufacturing plant, which is the first for a major U.S. automaker. The plant is located in the GM Baltimore Operations Complex and scheduled to open in 2013. The new factory will produce 190 jobs, working to produce the next generation of electric and hybrid vehicles. The new facility will manufacturer components needed for vehicle electrification, in a complex that already manufactures two-mode hybrid and heavy duty transmissions.

The new construction GM will also contribute to its renewable energy portfolio. Currently General Motors claims that it 1.4% of the company’s energy needs come from renewable sources. This new construction will add to it. The factory will be equipped with a 1.23 megawatt solar array providing 9% of its annual energy and proving energy savings of $330,000 during the life of the project. GM has signed a 20-year power purchase contract with Constellation Energy who will build, own and operate the 1.23 MW solar system. The facility will be built with funding from GM, as well as state and federal funding. General Motors will be investing $129 million into the plant. They will be receiving $105 million from the U.S. Department of Energy, which 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. Local and State funding will add another $10.5 million to the construction project.

The Foresight Science & Technology’s Energy Storage Supply Chain Portal (ESSCP) highlights major incentive programs for alternative vehicle technologies. It states that the Department of Energy is investing $12 billion in advanced vehicle technologies including more than $5 billion to electrify American transportation. The money is distributed through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the Department of Energy’s Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing (ATVM) Loan Program. The ATVM Loan Program awarded $2.6 billion to manufactures for electric vehicle manufacturing facilities. There are nearly $350 million included in the program for electrification projects along with $40 million for education of the new vehicles and technologies.

The ESSCP also highlights infrastructure and economic goals the United States has envisioned pertaining to electric vehicles. These goals include producing 500,000 electric vehicles annually by 2015 and deploying 20,000 charging locations by 2013. President Obama has promoted the purchase of plug-in and hybrid- electric vehicles, in the United States, pushing for a goal of seeing 1 million such cars and trucks on U.S. roads by 2015. There are increasing number of incentives and rebates to consumer to promote the purchase of electric vehicles. The Obama administration also has reportedly set up a $7,500 rebate in its 2012 budget proposal for drivers who buy electric vehicles.

The Obama administration is helping to support the Plug-in Station Program, a $37 million subsidized initiative run by Coulomb Technologies, Inc., an electric vehicle infrastructure company. This program will equip 9 cities across the country with thousands of free charging stations in 2011. Nearly 5,000 charging stations will be installed throughout nine communities in the nation. The communities set to receive these stations include Austin, Texas; Detroit, Michigan; Los Angeles, California; New York, New York; Orlando, Florida; Sacramento, California; Bellevue/Redmond, Washington; the San Jose/San Francisco Bay Area, as well as Washington DC.

General Motors plans to be major part of the global race to capture the growing market for alternative vehicle technologies. General Motors looks to be a part of the movement getting on board early. The Obama administration plans to purchase 116 plug-in electric vehicles for the U.S. government. General Motors will provide 101 Chevrolet Volts of the 116 vehicles being purchased. General Motors is not stopping there. GM has also received $30 million in Recovery Act funds for the development and demonstration of a vehicle charging program with two Washington D.C.-area utility companies. The project is part of Department of Energy’s Transportation Electrification Initiative. This facility and program is part of a plan that sees it as the first of three initial launch markets for the Chevrolet Volt electric vehicle. The other expected launch markets include Michigan and California, which may see investments in similar projects.

Additional reading:

Berger, Judson “Federal Government Charges Up Electric Car Market.” Fox News, February 15, 2011. (accessed May 27, 2011).

“GM Breaks Ground for Electric Motor Plant in Maryland Due to Demand in Electric and Hybrid Vehicles” Area Development Online News, May 22, 2011. http://www.areadevelopment.com/newsItems/5-22-2011/general-motor-ev-white-marsh-maryland-0000441.shtml (accessed May 27, 2011).

“GM Electric Motors Plant is First for Major U.S. Automaker.” General Motors web site. http://media.gm.com/content/media/us/en/gm/news.detail.html/content/Pages/news/us/en/2011/May/0517_baltimore (accessed May 27, 2011).

Keane, A.G. and Chipman, Kim. “Obama Administration Buying 116 Plug-In Vehicles for Fleet, Led by GM Volt” Bloomberg, May 24, 2011. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-05-24/obama-administration-buying-116-plug-in-vehicles-for-fleet-led-by-gm-volt.html (accessed May 27, 2011).

“Regional Industry Overviews: United States Industry Overview.” Foresight Science & Technology web site. http://ip2.foresightst.com/ESSCP/Lists/Regional%20Industry%20Overviews/DispForm.aspx?ID=2 (accessed May 27, 2011).

Welsh, Jonathan. “GM Begins Work On Electric Motor Factory.” Wall Street Journal, May 18, 2011. http://blogs.wsj.com/drivers-seat/2011/05/18/gm-begins-work-on-electric-motor-factory/?mod=google_news_blog (accessed May 27, 2011).

Manniche Alves is a commercialization analyst for Foresight Science and Technology.

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