As Electric Vehicles Take Charge, Costs Power Down

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Thanks to a cost-sharing project with the Energy Department, General Motors has been able to develop the capacity to build electric and hybrid motors internally. Also teaming with Delphi automotive added capacity. So that has made cars like the upcoming Chevy Spark EV a reality.

Most noteworthy, the record number of electric-drive vehicles on display in 2011. That’s right folks, on the floor of Detroit’s North American International Auto Show. Without question this sends a clear message. That is the American auto industry , dedicated to driving innovation. More importantly too, delivering advanced vehicles to consumers here and around the world.

GM is working with USDOE every step of the way to help make that vision a reality. One of the keys to widespread consumer adoption is driving down costs. In addition and more noteworthy, there is one area that continues to be a focus across the industry. That focus the car cos want to cut is the cost of electric motors.

In addition to further research and development, increasing the domestic manufacturing capacity of electric motors is one of the keys to accomplishing this. Upping capacity will not only help meet growing consumer demand. However it will also help drive down the cost of both the motors and the vehicle costs.

To help do this goal, the Energy Department has undertaken a variety of projects with industry partners to find creative ways to design and manufacture electric motors. On one such project, the Department teamed with Delphi Automotive Systems to cut the cost, size and weight of electric motors by using patented semiconductor packaging technology. The result of this cost-sharing partnership is new packaging that is smaller, lighter weight and allows more power to be produced than earlier methods.

Additionally, Delphi also received a competitively awarded $89.3 million award under the Recovery Act.  The award is to expand its manufacturing of power electronics for electric-drive vehicles. Delphi is matching these funds dollar-for-dollar. More importantly and the funding has allowed them to retool a formerly vacant manufacturing facility. Yup for the project and to build a new testing and engineering laboratory. The result? Delphi is currently increasing production of their power electronics. More interesting is that is already has enough orders on file to account for total production through 2015.

Most importantly, Delphi is just one example of the competitively awarded, cost-sharing projects that the Department is undertaking with automakers and their suppliers. A similar project has allowed Magna E-Car to manufacture the electric vehicle motor control unit and motor. This unveiled the Ford Focus EV in Grand Blanc, Michigan. Ford’s Van Dyke Transmission Plant in Sterling Heights, Michigan, is building the electric drive transaxles for the 2013 Focus C-MAX hybrid and plug-in hybrid models. And GM, thanks to $105 million in Energy Department support, now capacity to develop and manufacture electric motors for hybrid and electric vehicles such as the recently announced Chevy Spark.

In conclusion, cost-sharing projects are helping to turn innovative advanced vehicles. Ones that might have otherwise been merely trade show concepts into a consumer reality. They are creating jobs while lowering costs for consumers. Most importantly and pushing the auto industry forward. Finally they are helping American car cos introduce innovative, efficient vehicles. So while cutting-edge cars like the Ford Focus Electric and the Chevy Spark might be relegated to the auto show floor for the moment, it won’t be long before they become a familiar sight on car lots and roads across the country.

Source: US Department of Energy, January 13, 2012 – 1:29pm, http://energy.gov/articles/electric-vehicles-take-charge-costs-power-down