GM is drumming up interest for its American-manufactured automotive electric motors including the powerful permanent magnet design for the pending 2013 Spark EV.

The advantages offered by electrification will be incorporated into a number of vehicles, GM said, and the Spark EV with a motor built in White Marsh, Md. will help showcase how potent EV power can be by offering 37-percent more horsepower than the internal-combustion version.

The Korean-made, gasoline-powered 2013 Spark will make use of a tiny 1.2-liter four-cylinder with 83 horsepower and approximately 80 pound-feet of torque. In contrast, the electric car will kick out 85 kilowatts (114 horsepower) and instant torque – GM is not divulging the torque figure, but it is sure to be sufficient.

GM has said its first battery electric car since the EV1 really scoots, and is presently validating and testing equipment and processes at its Wixom, Mich. facility that will be used at White Marsh when production begins in late 2012.

The company's announcement of domestic motor assembly is in line with its push toward in-sourcing from its U.S. plants instead of only outsourcing as some observers have otherwise decried of American manufacturing trends.

“We’ve spent the past few years highlighting our in-house battery capability, which will play a significant role as one of our core competencies going forward,” said Larry Nitz, GM executive director of Vehicle Electrification Engineering. "Electric motor development and manufacturing is another area of expertise we’ll need as we expand vehicle electrification technologies to address the needs of our customers around the world.”

This news about the motor also adds credibility to the speculation that the limited-production Spark EV could be at least partially assembled in the U.S.

Already known is the Spark EV's Michigan-made A123 batteries will be mated to the White Marsh-produced motors.

So, would it make sense for GM to build electric powertrain components in the U.S., then ship them to Korea only to re-import the vehicle back to America? Keep in mind also that refrigerated shipping of batteries which are considered hazardous materials is anything but inexpensive.

While the company is yet holding out on this question, it did recently invite members of the media to tour its Wixom facility to see how progress is going with development of permanent magnet and induction motors.

These will be used for more than just traction motors, as conventionally powered vehicles require a variety of electric motors to power seats, windows, windshield washers and other uses.

But motors for propulsion will also be part of the mix. While sharing a bit more about the Spark, GM said “other future vehicles” will be equipped with White Marsh traction motors.

One could surmise these will be for plug-in vehicles, but GM also noted that it uses electric motors as part of the propulsion system in nine of its vehicles.

GM vehicles using electricity as go-power are: the Chevrolet Volt, Chevrolet Malibu Eco, Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid, Buick Lacrosse eAssist, Buick Regal eAssist, GMC Sierra Hybrid, GMC Yukon and Yukon Denali Hybrid, and Cadillac Escalade Hybrid.


Web Chat Today

The Chevrolet Volt team will be hosting another Web chat at 3 p.m. EDT. Lindsay Brooke, senior editor for the SAE's Automotive Engineering International magazine and GM's Chief Engineer for Electric Motors Pete Savagian will answer questions about the Volt and electric vehicles.

Chevrolet Volt Web Chat with Pete Savagian and Lindsay Brooke