GM is breaking ground on a new building in Wixom, Michigan that will house the company’s new Performance and Racing Center, an electric motor lab and a gear center to further development of GM’s plug-in and hybrid powertrains, and a new “gear center” that will push forward GM’s in-house transmission development.
What that means for race fans is that GM is recommitting to its involvement in NASCAR, IndyCar, and IMSA-type endurance racing while consolidating its R&D efforts in such a way that the lessons learned in motor racing will be translated directly into more powerful, more efficient road cars. It could also hint at future integration of GM’s racing programs and its electrified vehicle efforts, following the path of efficient performance.
Don’t take my word for it, however. You can read the entire GM press release, below, and let us know whether the upcoming 2016 Chevy Volt needs more or less IndyCar-level technology in the comments at the bottom of the page. Enjoy!
PONTIAC, Mich. – General Motors today began construction of a state-of-the-art facility for race engine design and development, as well as an electric motor laboratory and gear center.
GM’s continued investment in motorsports comes from the time-tested belief that racing is the ultimate proving ground for much of the technology that applies to the vehicles GM sells.
“The GM Performance and Racing Center, or GMPRC, will continue to develop some of the world’s winningest race engines for Chevrolet and Cadillac,” said Steve Kiefer, vice president of GM Global Powertrain. “Connecting our race engineers with our global powertrain engineering teams will improve our customers’ powertrains in terms of efficiency, reliability and durability. The center will also provide exciting career opportunities for our engineering organization.”
Engineers and technicians from GM’s race engineering center in Wixom, Mich. will move to the new facility in mid-2015. The relocation will centralize North American powertrain engineering expertise for production engines as well as advanced and racing propulsion programs. Condensing the engineering to one large space is an excellent way to develop race-bred engineers whether they work on production or performance vehicles.
This centralization of talent will provide more collaboration opportunities between racing and production engineers already at GM Powertrain Engineering headquarters and development lab, one of the most advanced facilities of its kind in the world.
The move will include about 100 employees who work on powertrain racing development, electric motors and in the gear center. The new building is expected to be opened and in use by mid-2015 and completed by early 2016.
“The GM Performance and Racing Center will serve as a resource to help our race teams and drivers continue to win races and championships,” said Jim Campbell, U.S. vice president, Performance Vehicles and Motorsports. “It will also help advance technical sharing between racing and production engine programs.”
The GMPRC is part of a $200 million investment GM announced last January to build a new 138,000 sq.-ft. test wing. At that time, the company announced work at four remote locations would consolidate on the Pontiac campus, helping to reduce development timing for GM’s next-generation advanced propulsion technologies. When the moves are complete, about 400 jobs will be added to the Pontiac campus.
Engineers at the GMPRC will work on powertrain-related projects for GM’s involvement in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, NASCAR Nationwide Series, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Verizon IndyCar Series, TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, Pirelli World Challenge, NHRA (COPO Camaro Program) and Global Rally Cross.
The Chevrolet and Cadillac racing teams have seen much track success. Since its inception in 1999, Corvette Racing has won 10 manufacturer titles in GT competition and 92 global wins, including seven prestigious class wins in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Team Cadillac, since 2004, has amassed 24 wins, 82 podium finishes and 20 pole positions. The team won the World Challenge Manufacturer Championship in 2005, 2006, 2012 and 2013.
In NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition, Chevrolet has captured the Manufacturers’ Cup title an unprecedented 37 times, including the past 11 consecutive years. Chevrolet also leads all Manufacturers in the series with 722 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victories.
Chevrolet returned to the Verizon IndyCar Series in 2012 as an engine manufacturer, and won 23 of the 37 races held since. Chevrolet also won the IndyCar Manufacturer Championship in 2012 and 2013. Chevrolet IndyCar V6 drivers on the pole for the Indianapolis 500 in both 2012 and 2013, and Tony Kanaan won the 2013 Indianapolis 500.
In addition to the performance and racing engineering, the new facility will house an electric motor lab and a gear center.
The electric motor lab produces prototype electric motors and validates manufacturing processes used in the production of electric and hybrid vehicle motors. Electric motor engineering, design and validation are core competencies for GM in the development, sourcing and manufacturing of electric vehicles and their major components.
The gear center supports design, manufacturing processes, inspection techniques and testing of gears used primarily in the next generation of GM transmissions.
The GM Powertrain World Headquarters is a 450,000-square-foot facility. Engineers at the facility design and develop engines, transmissions, hybrid and electric powertrains, and fuel cell technologies. Advanced tools within the campus provide engineers the ability to test all elements of these propulsion systems under extreme conditions, including cold ambient temperatures, high RPMs, and repetitive starting and stopping, to assure excellent durability, reliability and quality.