General Motors' plan for powertrain expansion and work consolidation (February 2013)Enlarge Photo
General Motors has announced more shuffling of its future-tech facilities.
Back in October, the automaker shut down a fuel cell center in Honeoye Falls, New York and shifted operations (along with 220 jobs) to Pontiac, Michigan. Outposts in Torrance, California, Castleton, Indiana, and Warren, Michigan are also being relocated to Pontiac, as is GM's Systems Research Lab in Wixom, Michigan.
GM's other major project in Wixom, the Performance Build Center (which crafts engines for the Chevrolet Corvette), is migrating to the automaker's Corvette assembly plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
To accommodate these consolidations, GM will invest about $3.5 million in Bowling Green and $200 million at its Global Powertrain Engineering Headquarters in Pontiac. According to a GM press release, the latter funds will be used to build a 138,000 square-foot test wing, which the company expects to open sometime in the later half of 2014. The consolidations in Pontiac will add around 400 jobs at the facility.
GM says that the Pontiac expansion will cut down on the time it takes engineers to test and develop new powertrain technologies. In its press release, the automaker explains that "The center’s state-of-the-art facilities allow engineers to test engines under extreme conditions, including cold ambient temperatures, high RPMs, and repetitive starting and stopping, to assure world-class durability, reliability and quality."
Exactly what GM will be developing in Pontiac is a matter for speculation. As we reported back in November, GM plans to continue enhancing its mild-hybrid e-Assist system. But GM Product Chief Mary Barra has also said that GM will "make educated bets on which technologies hold the most potential for creating values for our customers and our company... We think plug-in technology will plan an increasingly important role over the years to come."
We'd wager that GM's newly centralized workforce will be focused on improving the Voltec powertrain technology found in the Chevrolet Volt and the upcoming Cadillac ELR -- if we were the betting sort, that is. We'll keep you posted.