Apr 17

GM Assembles Spark EV Motors in Baltimore

 

By Phillippe Crowe

General Motors has become the first U.S.-based automaker to manufacture its electric motors in America.

More specifically, the motors for the new Chevrolet Spark EV are being manufactured now at its Baltimore Operations plant in White Marsh, Md.

Chevy_Spark_EV_Motor_Main-668
 

“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. They said the permanent magnet motor features a unique design to provide precise delivery of power.

The Spark EV electric motor will produce 130 horsepower (100 kilowatts) and 400 pound-feet of torque. This will result in an 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 later expand to Canada, Europe and South Korea.

Chevy_Spark_EV_Motor_2-668
 

“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.

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 machines used to configure portions of the electric motor and drive units.

“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.”


 

GM said the Baltimore facility is highly green and environmentally friendly. It is GM’s exclusive manufacturer of A1000 transmissions for heavy duty pickup trucks and electric motors and drivetrains for the Chevrolet Spark EV.

The facility has been landfill free since 2007, recycling 100 percent of its waste. Baltimore’s facility has had a 1.2 megawatt roof mounted solar array installed in May 2011 and received certification for their Wildlife Habitat in June 2011.

A new facility has been built on the campus to house manufacturing for eMotor production.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 17th, 2013 at 5:55 am and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

COMMENTS: 39


  1. 1
    Ziv

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    Apr 17th, 2013 (7:38 am)

    Building the motors in Baltimore and the batteries in Livonia is a great first step, but it would be nice if the Spark was built here too so they didn’t need to get shipped all the way to Korea to get installed in the Spark and then shipped all the way back here to be sold. But, a nice first step regardless. Or maybe a nice second step considering the location of the Hamtramck plant.


  2. 2
    Dave G

     

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    Apr 17th, 2013 (7:39 am)

    Tesla uses induction. Induction motors are smaller, cheaper, and easier to handle than permanent magnet motors. And with the proper firmware, induction also has better average efficiency.

    Here’s an example. Let’s say you have a car like the Volt with a 150hp electric motor. 150hp – that’s the peak power the motor can deliver. But the Volt rarely needs to use that much power. For example, driving 65MPH on level ground only requires around 30hp, or only 20% of peak power.

    At 20% of peak power, an induction motor with the right firmware is more efficient.

    At peak power, a permanent magnet motor will always be more efficient, but how often do EVs and EREVs need peak power?

    For EVs and EREVs, Induction motors have better average efficiency.

    Why is GM still using permanent magnet motors?


  3. 3
    Martin T

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    Apr 17th, 2013 (8:17 am)

    I believe Tesla was the first to assemble electric motors in America ?

    Say the person who did the animation screwed up … the differential in not straight of the planetary output – it has another gear set to make it offset so the diff can have out put shafts either side LOL!


  4. 4
    Roy_H

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    Apr 17th, 2013 (8:23 am)

    Dave G,

    GM engineers know all about induction motors. They used induction in the EV1 and the two motors in the Volt are one induction and the other PM. I am sure they spent a lot of time testing and optimizing both designs before making the decision for the Spark.

    Your statement about peak power efficiency vs low power efficiency is at the core of the issue. This is where the real improvements are made, and is heavily dependent on software and winding configurations. You mention “with the proper firmware” that induction is better than permanent magnet, but that statement about firmware is equally applicable to PM motors.

    I am confident that the GM engineers have made the right choice.


  5. 5
    Roy_H

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    Apr 17th, 2013 (8:27 am)

    Martin T,

    Electric motors? No. Tesla was the inventor of the 3 phase electric motor along with the 3 phase power distribution system.


  6. 6
    Roy_H

     

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    Apr 17th, 2013 (8:34 am)

    Martin T: the differential in not straight off the planetary output

    Do you have some inside info to prove your statement? Looks like to me that the motor is hollow in the center so the drive shaft for the other wheel goes right back through the motor.


  7. 7
    unni

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    Apr 17th, 2013 (8:36 am)

    What is the role of planetary gear set in Spark Ev ? is it a 2 gear EV ?


  8. 8
    Roy_H

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    Apr 17th, 2013 (8:41 am)

    unni:
    What is the role of planetary gear set in Spark Ev ? is ita 2 gear EV ?

    Obviously the planetary gear is for reduction, but a great observation as with the addition of a couple of clutches it could be switched in and out giving 2 ratios. I think if it did, they would have said so.


  9. 9
    joe

     

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    Apr 17th, 2013 (9:14 am)

    Martin T:
    I believe Tesla was the first to assemble electric motors in America ?

    Say the person who did the animation screwed up … the differential in not straight of the planetary output – it has another gear set to make it offset so the diff can have out put shafts either side LOL!

    For your information, GM is not new in building electric motors. They’ve had the expertize for many decades.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:Search?search=delco+motors&sourceid=Mozilla-search


  10. 10
    ClarksonCote

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    Apr 17th, 2013 (9:14 am)

    Does the Volt’s motor get assembled here now too?


  11. 11
    nasaman

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    Apr 17th, 2013 (9:16 am)

    OT but fascinating NY Times article on GM ‘3-bangers’ saying, “The Ecotec 3-cylinder could appear in the refreshed 2015 Chevrolet Volt and the 2016 Cadillac ELR” at: http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/16/g-m-enters-the-3-cylinder-engine-arms-race/?nl=automobiles&emc=edit_ws_20130416 *

    *This is speculative and not a good candidate as a lead article here, but it’s too intriguing to ignore!


  12. 12
    joe

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    Apr 17th, 2013 (9:26 am)

    Dave G:
    Tesla uses induction.Induction motors are smaller, cheaper, and easier to handle than permanent magnet motors.And with the proper firmware, induction also has better average efficiency.

    Here’s an example.Let’s say you have a car like the Volt with a 150hp electric motor.150hp – that’s the peak power the motor can deliver.But the Volt rarely needs to use that much power.For example, driving 65MPH on level ground only requires around 30hp, or only 20% of peak power.

    At 20% of peak power, an induction motor with the right firmware is more efficient.

    At peak power, a permanent magnet motor will always be more efficient, but how often do EVs and EREVs need peak power?

    For EVs and EREVs, Induction motors have better average efficiency.

    Why is GM still using permanent magnet motors?

    Sorry to disagree, but permanent motors are smaller and better in many other ways than induction motors.

    http://www.sustainableplant.com/2012/04/induction-vs-permanent-magnet-motors/

    http://www.controleng.com/single-article/permanent-magnet-motors-outperform-induction-motors-in-many-applications/413305407b2989675983a5babac0ac6d.html


  13. 13
    Jackson

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    Apr 17th, 2013 (9:31 am)

    Good.

    ClarksonCote:
    Does the Volt’s motor get assembled here now too?

    No, and it needs to be ASAP, IMO. Hopefully the Spark motor represents the beginnings of this.


  14. 14
    Jackson

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    Apr 17th, 2013 (9:33 am)

    Roy_H: Tesla was the inventor of the 3 phase electric motor along with the 3 phase power distribution system.

    Nicola Tesla, lest the reader be confused. Today’s Tesla company is named after him.


  15. 15
    Jim I

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    Apr 17th, 2013 (9:53 am)

    When can I see a Spark EV in Ohio or Florida?

    But I think I would really rather have an EREV MPV5.

    JMHO

    C-5277


  16. 16
    Loboc

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    Apr 17th, 2013 (9:57 am)

    I believe that as we see higher global energy costs and domestic energy supplies improve, more companies will find that off-shore manufacturing for USA consumption is cost-prohibitive.

    IOW, more companies will start on-shoring manufacturing for local consumption due to inefficiencies of all the shipping.


    OT. Read my WattStation install instructions last night. Looks pretty straight-forward.


  17. 17
    kdawg

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    Apr 17th, 2013 (10:33 am)

    I wonder if GM will use these motors in their upcoming “purpose built” EV. Hopefully the complete assembly will happen in the US, so parts don’t have to be shipped around so much.

    On the Spark, do we have any new info on the battery? Where will it be sourced from A123/B456/whatever, but what location?


  18. 18
    Noel Park

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    Apr 17th, 2013 (12:16 pm)

    Dave G: Tesla uses induction.

    #2

    Frankly Scarlett, I don’t give a damn what Tesla does, LOL.


  19. 19
    Noel Park

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    Apr 17th, 2013 (12:20 pm)

    nasaman: OT but fascinating NY Times article on GM ’3-bangers’ saying, “The Ecotec 3-cylinder could appear in the refreshed 2015 Chevrolet Volt and the 2016 Cadillac ELR”

    #11

    Bring it ON! +1


  20. 20
    Mark Z

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    Apr 17th, 2013 (12:21 pm)

    More jobs in the USA. That is great news!


  21. 21
    Noel Park

     

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    Apr 17th, 2013 (12:22 pm)

    Loboc: I believe that as we see higher global energy costs and domestic energy supplies improve, more companies will find that off-shore manufacturing for USA consumption is cost-prohibitive.

    #16

    From your lips to God’s ear! +1


  22. 22
    Noel Park

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    Apr 17th, 2013 (12:26 pm)

    Mark Z:
    More jobs in the USA. That is great news!

    #20

    Amen! +1


  23. 23
    sharkvolt

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    Apr 17th, 2013 (12:52 pm)

    Martin T: the differential in not straight of the planetary output – it has another gear set to make it offset so the diff can have out put shafts either side LOL!

    The animation shows a hollow rotor, with the other driveshaft going through the center of the motor. Right?


  24. 24
    Noel Park

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    Apr 17th, 2013 (1:28 pm)

    I saw a Volt in the parking lot when I stopped at the market last night. Driven by a beautiful and charming young woman I might add. She said that she loved it. I saw 2 more within 10 minutes on my way to work this AM.

    That’s the most I’ve seen on the road here within any 24 hour period ever. So I’m pretty encouraged today. Patience guys. It may take a while longer, but we’re gonna take over the world soon enough, LOL.


  25. 25
    Noel Park

     

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    Apr 17th, 2013 (1:31 pm)

    kdawg: I wonder if GM will use these motors in their upcoming “purpose built” EV.

    #17

    That’s the first I’ve heard about a “purpose built” EV. What do we know about that?

    kdawg: On the Spark, do we have any new info on the battery? Where will it be sourced from A123/B456/whatever, but what location?

    Yeah, good question. They sure put at least one nail in Fisker’s coffin.


  26. 26
    kdawg

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    Apr 17th, 2013 (1:40 pm)

    Noel Park: That’s the first I’ve heard about a “purpose built” EV. What do we know about that?

    Not much, other than it will have a 100 mile, or a 200 mile (or both) EV range.

    Here’s an article on it.
    http://green.autoblog.com/2013/03/07/gm-ceo-akerson-confirms-200-mile-ev-in-the-works-says-death-of/


  27. 27
    Gary

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    Apr 17th, 2013 (1:40 pm)

    Interesting article re: Induction vs. DC brushless motors from Tesla: http://www.teslamotors.com/blog/induction-versus-dc-brushless-motors


  28. 28
    Noel Park

     

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    Apr 17th, 2013 (2:01 pm)

    kdawg: Here’s an article on it.

    #26

    Thanks. We look to the day. +1


  29. 29
    Sean

     

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    Apr 17th, 2013 (2:08 pm)

    Uh guys you’ve got it all wrong electric vehicles are not new at all the electric vehicle was invented back either in the early 1890’s or 1900’s?

    If you don’t believe me here’s an article about the history of the electric vehicle or EV.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_electric_vehicle

    Also I’m not sure if everybody knows this but Jay Leno owns one of the very first electric cars in the history of mankind and that would be the Baker Electric and they were for women only as Jay has said in the past before.

    Unless that was one of his other EV’S he owned but it could be this one?

    Here’s some info on the Baker Electric.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baker_Motor_Vehicle

    Just saying Tesla isn’t the first to do EV’S.


  30. 30
    Jackson

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    Apr 17th, 2013 (3:25 pm)

    Sean,

    Yes, we know that. We are referring to EVs in the modern era, using computer control, Li Ion batteries and modern magnetic materials (after a century of internal combustion engine dominance). The first wave of EVs (typified by the Baker Electric) went away because gas engines were both cheaper and more powerful. Now that gasoline is no longer cheap, the pendulum is beginning to swing the other way. With continued research and improvements (and an existing market), these new-era vehicles will begin to displace the reigning oil engine for the same reasons that they were themselves displaced.


  31. 31
    Raymondjram

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    Apr 17th, 2013 (3:44 pm)

    joe: Sorry to disagree, but permanent motors are smaller and better in many other ways than induction motors.

    I agree. Besides, I have repaired many of the small electric motors used in GM vehicles, such as windshield wipers, windshield washer pumps, electric windows, and even EGR motors. All use permanent field magnet motors. My “repairs” were mostly the cleanup and lubrication of rusted axles, bearings, commutators, and cores from the moisture. Most technicians would just replace them and charge more. It was a bit labor intensive, but I saved money by not replacing them. Knowing how motors operate allows me the confidence to open the assemblies, fix those motors, and reassembling them in almost new conditions. My training as an EE helps!

    So if I do buy my own Spark EV, I can service myself. My only limitation will be getting replacement parts where needed. But servicing the Spark will be minimal, especially seeing the excellence in their construction above.

    Good work, GM, on the Spark motor! Now do the same to all the models and convert them to electric power!

    Raymond


  32. 32
    rdunniii

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    Apr 17th, 2013 (3:59 pm)

    Lets see,

    The Volt transmission (which contains the electric motors) weighs 406 pounds, produces ~170Kw and averages 3-4 miles/Kw.

    The <200 pound Tesla motor and gearbox (not including the inverter/charger assembly) produces 225Kw /w the 60Kw battery, 310Kw in the performance version, and averages 3-4 miles/Kw.

    And the Tesla drive train is far simpler to maintain.

    Don't get me wrong, I like GMs two motor approach to balancing RPMs vs torque and think it is a better way to go, it just is more complicated and less efficient (right now).


  33. 33
    Sean

     

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    Apr 17th, 2013 (6:43 pm)

    I Understand now just wasn’t sure but yes I do hope in the next few years gas will range from $4.50-$6.00 a gallon.

    Who knows we may get to the $4.50 or $5.00 range this year and yes I know California, Alaska and Hawaii get prices like that.

    But I’m talking about other States that haven’t been hit with high prices like those yet.

    Who knows maybe here in Renton,WA will get hit hard in July or August?

    Only time will tell.

    The higher the price the more people will want to seek more more fuel efficient vehicles and pure EV’S.


  34. 34
    Eco_Turbo

     

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    Apr 17th, 2013 (6:58 pm)

    Dave G: but how often do EVs and EREVs need peak power?

    Depends on who you ask! 😎


  35. 35
    Eco_Turbo

     

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    Apr 17th, 2013 (7:44 pm)

    Loboc: IOW, more companies will start on-shoring manufacturing for local consumption due to inefficiencies of all the shipping.

    It may have more to do with the efficiency of the product, Watts are Watts, you know.


  36. 36
    pjkPA

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    Apr 18th, 2013 (12:01 pm)

    Good article …
    Good to see more being made in the US.

    This was the first time the temp was 60degrees when I started out this morning.
    I drove 12 miles on 2.2Kwh .. in PA hills. For me that’s about 1.5 cents per mile!!!

    The unbelievable Volt!

    Best engineered car on the road today!


  37. 37
    omnimoeish

     

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    Apr 18th, 2013 (1:40 pm)

    Yay, now make an EV about the size of a Cruze and I’m all over it.


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