GM has plans to launch the next generation of its hybrid pickup trucks in 2013, and the electric motors that power the gas/electric hybrids will be designed and produced by the company.
The company is making the change because it wants control over the process, so it can respond to changing market conditions quicker than it could if it were part of a partnership with other automakers.
The new motors will be smaller and stronger--GM says the engines will take up 25 percent less space and be 20 percent stronger. That could translate into a 50 percent greater towing capacity.
GM will be investing $246 in a new manufacturing facility, $105 million of which will come from a U.S. Department of Energy grant.
The current "Two-Mode" system that GM uses was developed in a joint venture that involved GM, Chrysler, BMW, and Daimler. The new system will be used only by GM, meaning Chrysler will have to switch to a new system after 2012, if it wants to keep offering a hybrid powertrain in the Ram pickup. A Ram 1500 Two-Mode will be made available in 2010.
This move makes sense from GM's perspective. As noted above, it makes sense for the company to have better flexibility as the market demands for electric and hybrid vehicles change, as well as when technology changes. General Motors has been criticized for being slow to the hybrid game, and having control of its own technology will help the company blunt that criticism. It could also make for better hybrid powertrains in GM products, since engineering compromises won't need to be made to fit the powertrains into the trucks.