General Motors Announces Production Of First Light-Duty, Hybrid Transmission To Be Manufactured In The U.S.

General Motors announced on the 1st of February, that the first light-duty integrated hybrid transmission to be designed and built in the U.S., will be produced at GM’s Baltimore Transmission plant. The new two-mode hybrid transmission will go into production next year and will initially be used in GM’s all-new full-size SUVs, the Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon. The vehicles will be assembled at GM’s Arlington, Texas plant.

The only other U.S. designed and built hybrid transmission from a major auto manufacturer is also produced by GM. A heavy-duty two-mode transmission for urban transit buses began production in 2003. GM has provided 388 hybrid propulsion systems, designed and built in Indianapolis, Indiana, for transit systems in 29 cities in North America and Yosemite National Park. GM begins 2006 with orders for an additional 216 hybrid bus systems.

GM will invest up to $118 million to upgrade its GM Powertrain Baltimore Transmission facility for building a new, rear-wheel drive two-mode hybrid vehicle transmission. The investment will create up to 87 new jobs.

“Our two-mode hybrid transmission is a leap forward in hybrid technology and a key part of GM’s unique strategy to offer several different hybrid systems in a range of popular vehicles,” said GM Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner. “Our multi-pronged hybrid program is in addition to our many other efforts to minimize the impact of our cars and trucks on the environment, including the 1.5 million GM vehicles already capable of using ethanol/gasoline blended E85 fuel, and our cutting edge advances in hydrogen fuel-cell technology.

“With the first light-duty, hybrid transmission to be designed and built in the U.S., we’re also very excited to be bringing new jobs and capital investment to Maryland,” Wagoner said. “We applaud the United Auto Workers and Maryland’s federal, state and local leaders for making this investment possible.”

“This $118 million investment in new manufacturing equipment, new tooling and facility upgrades, is welcome news for UAW Local 239 members at Baltimore Transmission, and the Baltimore community,” said UAW Vice President Richard Shoemaker. “This investment underscores GM’s commitment to deliver fuel efficient, hybrid vehicles with cutting edge components from UAW-represented facilities like Baltimore Transmission.”

GM Powertrain’s Baltimore Transmission facility opened in 2000 and its 440-member workforce currently builds the Allison 1000 Series automatic transmission. The new investment will involve upgrades to the existing facility, including new manufacturing equipment and new tooling. About 100,000 square feet – approximately a quarter of the facility – will be dedicated to producing the two-mode hybrid transmission.

GM, DaimlerChrysler and the BMW Group are co-developing the light-duty two-mode technology, modeled on GM’s multi-patented hybrid-electric diesel technology in urban transit buses. This partnership pools the technical expertise of all three companies and speeds development time while reducing costs for each OEM partner. In GM’s SUVs, the two-mode hybrid system will be mated to a Vortec V8 with Active Fuel Management for a fuel efficiency gain of at least 25 percent by:

Capturing electrical energy through regenerative braking
Shutting the engine off (and fuel) at idle and during deceleration
Providing an all-electric launch and drive capability

Two-mode hybrid technology uses a variable transmission with two electric motors and two hybrid modes of operation. The addition of a second mode to the drive system improves efficiency and reduces the need for exceedingly large electric motors. The second mode is used mostly when the vehicle is at higher speeds, such as on the highway, so fuel economy will be optimized in both city and highway driving.

The two-mode hybrid delivers seamless, dependable power on demand and in a more efficient package, with motors less than half the size of single-mode systems. It also presents tremendous possibilities for GM globally because it can be adapted for a wide range of vehicle types in any region of the world.

GM is launching a broad range of hybrid models, providing customers with several levels of fuel economy savings at different price points on vehicles from cars to full-size SUVs. GM already builds and sells the industry’s first and only hybrid pickups, the Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid and the GMC Sierra Hybrid, which use a light hybrid system and deliver the highest city fuel economy in their segment. The trucks became available nationally as of the 2006 model year.

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