GM Moves Forward on Batteries, Fuel Cells, and Clean Diesels
June 20, 2007
General Motors Corporation (GM) took action in June to advance a number of fuel-efficient vehicle technologies, including battery-powered vehicles, fuel cells, and clean diesel engines. In early June, GM awarded contracts to two companies in support of its Chevrolet Volt concept car. Compact Power, Inc. and Continental Automotive Systems will develop lithium-ion battery packs to support both the plug-in hybrid version of the Volt, unveiled in January, and the fuel-cell-powered version that was introduced in April. See the GM press release.
On June 15th, GM signaled its intent to commercialize fuel cell vehicles by announcing the move of 500 of its fuel cell engineers from its advanced development laboratories to more production-oriented roles. Four hundred of the engineers are moving to GM's Powertrain Group, where they will begin production engineering of fuel cell systems, while another 100 will transfer to GM's Global Product Development organization to start integrating fuel cells into future company vehicles. The move leaves 150 fuel cell scientists and program support specialists at GM's Research and Development center. See the GM press release.
GM also announced plans to produce a new clean diesel engine at its engine plant in Tonawanda, New York. GM will invest $100 million in the plant to produce the new 4.5-liter, V8 diesel engine, which will be featured in the Hummer 2 and the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup trucks. Compared to today's gasoline-fueled models, GM expects the diesel vehicles to achieve a 25% increase in fuel efficiency and a 13% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions. Thanks to the use of Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel fuel and advanced emissions controls, the engine should produce only one-tenth of the particulate and nitrous oxide emissions of today's diesel vehicles. Construction on the plant will begin later this year to support diesel engine production late in 2009. See the GM press releases on the new diesel engine and the engine plant.