DETROIT -- General Motors will launch the electric Chevrolet Spark minicar with a homegrown electric motor, part of GM's strategy to rely on its own technology as it pushes further into vehicle electrification.
The GM-built, 85-kilowatt electric motor for the Spark will produce 114 hp. It will be built at GM's powertrain plant in White Marsh, Md., near Baltimore, starting in early 2013. The electric Spark goes on sale the same year.
GM wants to develop its own expertise in key areas of vehicle electrification, including motors, batteries and control systems. Its push into electric motors follows several investments in in-house battery technology over the past few years.
"Building electric motors is a core competency that we need to be involved in hands-on," said Pete Savagian, engineering director for hybrid powertrains. GM is developing electric motors and assembling test units at a facility in suburban Detroit.
Savagian said GM can save money and make more-advanced electric motors by developing and building them in-house.
Today, GM sells nine vehicles that use electric motors. Outside suppliers make those motors to GM's specifications.
GM has been working to develop its own electric motors since 2002. It has spent about $270 million on the effort so far, said Larry Nitz, GM's executive director of vehicle electrification engineering.
GM is likely to be the first automaker to build its own electric motors in the United States when it begins production of the Spark motor in January 2013. But that won't last long. Nissan Motor Co. said it plans to begin building the electric motor for its Leaf EV in Decherd, Tenn., starting in early 2013.
Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. long have made electric motors in-house at plants overseas.
Savagian said GM expects to build roughly 20 percent of its electric motors in the future. The rest will come from suppliers.
Remy International Inc. makes the electric motors for GM's Two Mode hybrid full-sized trucks. Continental AG supplies the electric motors for GM's newly launched e-Assist mild hybrid technology, which is featured on the 2012 Buick LaCrosse.