GM to Produce Electric Motors In-House for Next-Gen Two-Mode Hybrid Pickup Trucks

GM to Produce Electric Motors for Next-Gen Two-Mode Hybrid Pickup Trucks

General Motors' next-generation full-size Two-Mode Hybrid pickup trucks will arrive in 2013 with all-new electric motors designed and manufactured in-house by the company.

Tom Stephens, GM's vice chairman of global product operations, said Monday that understanding and controlling the production of electric motors will be critical if GM is to satisfy customer demands as vehicle buyers become more familiar with electric-driven cars and trucks.

"If you [control the manufacturing of] electric drives, batteries and controls, you can mix and match and do anything you want to do," Stephens said. "You have that capability to make it happen. GM intends to design and manufacture some electric motors. We're going to do that because we think customers are going to expect improvements in efficiency and performance and affordability. The best way for us to be able to satisfy those customers is to be able to have this knowledge."

GM's current Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra Two-Mode Hybrids combine an electrically variable transmission that houses two 60kW electric motors with a multi-displacement 6.0-liter V-8 gas engine. Depending on engine load, the electric motors alone can drive the truck up to 25 mph. As the V-8 kicks in, the electric motors seamlessly support it, individually or in tandem, at low and high speeds, helping the engine enter fuel-saving four-cylinder mode sooner and stay in it longer to achieve better fuel economy. Two-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive versions are EPA rated at 21/22 mpg city/highway.

Electric Motor

The electric motors used in the hybrid drivetrain are made from a small set of components that includes laminated steel, copper wire, insulation around the wire, magnets, precision bearings and a cooling system.

Pete Savagian, GM's engineering director, hybrid and electric architecture and electric motors, said the new Two-Mode architecture will feature 25 percent smaller packaging of the electric motors and improved cooling. The motors will also be smoother, quieter and more affordable.

"We need to take our expertise in several technologies, like transmissions and controls and then add this motor technology to it," said Savagian. "If we do all of that, we can come up with a very efficient electric drive system."

The motors won't just be more efficient, they'll be stronger too. Stephens said they'll have 20 percent greater power output. What does that mean for GM's haulers? Last year, GM promised its next-gen Two-Mode Hybrid pickups would see a 50 percent improvement in towing capacity using the enhanced components that Stephens and Savagian described.

GM is investing $246 million to build a dedicated manufacturing plant -- at a site that's still to be announced -- as well as making investments in electromagnetic computational facilities and powertrain testing facilities. $105 million will be provided through a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.

GM's future Two-Mode Hybrid system will be used solely by GM. The current Two-Mode Hybrid powertrain was developed in cooperation with BMW, Chrysler and Daimler. Chrysler has said that a new 2010 Ram 1500 Two-Mode Hybrid model will arrive later this year combined with the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8.

After 2012, Chrysler will have to use its own hybrid powertrain if the Ram is to continue to be offered with a gas-electric propulsion system.


When will we see full series hybrid trucks? Like powerful electric motors doing all the work, with a tiny V4 generator to charge the batteries. 0-60 in 6 seconds, 50mpg+, and full towing capability. That's when I will be impressed

Is the Ram Hybrid still going to be produced?

Nevermind. I should have read before I posted.

When you'll be charging that truck, the energy system will be down for several blocks around!

Hard to get excited when they say new tech, improved efficiency, but yet its still 21/22mpg. Whoop-de-do!

Glorified wheel barrow with electric drive.

Still trying to figure out who would need/want a hybrid truck.

Farmer type guy is always over 25 mph. RV puller needs more towing power, city guy that stays @ 25mph doesn't need a truck, OR for the 3x/yr they do, put a hitch and buy a cheap trailer @ Home Depot.

All for show, no go. Should be called the Obama Truck. LOL

I personally do not really see any point in a hybrid truck at the moment. They have capacities and ratings dropped just to do this. Maybe after they get the hang of these it will seem better appealing.

I dont know about the 5.7L Hemi Hybrid. I would think the 4.7L Hybrid Ram would be better.

This whole thing is just my two cents.

Hybrids of any kind really only help in city driving, for the most part they are just expensive gimmicks to keep the econ-nazis happy. The limiting factors on truck fuel economy are drag and weight, that's why smaller engines don't necessarily give you better mpg. The only way to improve mpg is to improve combustion efficiency, which everything the EPA does works against (just look at diesels).

Hybrids work better at low speeds because that's where gasoline engines are less efficient, but regardless of what some people seem to think you can't just put a 300hp electric motor in a truck and expect it to tow like a 300hp gas/diesel engine while the power to run it is supplied by a 10hp briggs & stratton. The HP numbers that many manufacturers quote on hybrids are gas+electric combined, that really only works until the batteries run dead at which point you just have the HP of the gas engine (minus whatever is being used to recharge the batteries). That's fine for cars that only need that power passing, but for towing you need that power every time you climb a hill it just doesn't work.

I don't think current hybrid systems are effective in trucks. There is no return on investment. It didn't make sense that GM put the hybrid in the 6L V8. the 5.3 would of been a better choice as it was already more fuel efficient. It is good to hear that GMC is expecting to double the towing capacity with their new systems. I'd buy a HD diesel before a hybrid as they cost about the same. At least the diesel can work hard.
From what I've read - the best way to go is fully electric with a diesel charging motor.

@Lou - That's basically what they do in trains, but then you are talking about a much bigger electric drive motor, larger generator and the same size diesel power plant to get the current towing performance. That would increase base truck weight substantially, in trains this isn't as important because they are pulling several times the weight of the engine, but with a light truck (or even a semi for that matter) its just to much weight.

Lou what are you talking about ? the 6.0 hybrid V8 gets 20 mpg in the city, the 5.3 V8 only gets 15.... 5 mpg's is a pretty big difference.

@ Jake - I'm talking about non-hybrid engines.
The hybrid is a waste of money. It would take 10 years of fuel savings to offset the hybrid cost. Just in time for the warranty on the batteries to expire and then cost you over $6,000 dollars to replace.

It really depends where you drive, if I spent everyday in Houston traffic it'd pay for itself in the first year. But where/how I drive, I get 17-18 mpg out of a 9 yo 5.4L F-150.

@Enjelus - I agree that it depends on where you drive. I've read a few articles that have mentioned a 10 year payback based on the driving encountered in the test. My own math based on my driving habits put it around the same duration. The price of fuel also has a large bearing on return on investment. "Greens" will argue that "financial payback" is not the point of owning a hybrid.
Thanks for your comments.

Why can't they produce Hydraulic Hybrid Vehicles? I personally think it's a much better idea than electrical hybrids. Lighter, less complex, easier to service, just as capable and would you believe more efficient? I mean UPS has been using them for a while now. The only problem I can really see with them is that hydraulics can't power your radio or your headlights....

Hydraulic Hybrids look pretty iffy to me, but I did read something about ford developing it for the f-150 so who knows.

message to chevy: stop screwing around with two-mode and build a light,mid-sized in-wheel electric truck with a versatile bulkhead midgate that look like the bare necessity truck you were working on before you went bankrunpt... of course this will never happen now that that you lost your shirt with the chevy volt.

BTW, I drove the chevy volt.. impressive, but numbers just don't add up when you consider the mpg and price of the same car without the electric component. Did you expect to market this car just to treehuggers? Pure genius.. time to cpr the heartbeat again.

I "like" you on Facebook. Would love these for my oldest boy!

I'll have to travel far to look at houses for rent in Northern Kentucky. I'm pretty sure this one can take me both ways without much wear!

It's a pity more people aren't looking for journalists in Northern Ireland! Maybe I should point them to this blog. Thanks for taking the time to write it.

Attentively to experience, work hard to comprehension, and to write a good article, come on!

Repetitive behavior make us; Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.

The strong, you will know how to struggle; The weak have not failed qualification, and is born vanquished.

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