New jobs in electric motor production coming to GM White Marsh

The General Motors plant in White Marsh will become the hub for a new effort by the car company to manufacture its own electric motors -- and would create 200 jobs, the company said Tuesday.

GM announced Tuesday afternoon that it is investing $246 million to build a manufacturing facility where the motors will be built. GM sees electric motors as the next innovation in the evolution of the car.

Production of the motors will begin in 2013 and GM will become the first major automaker in the U.S. to make the devices.

The White Marsh plant was one of several plants chosen last year by the federal government to receive part of $2.4 billion in stimulus grants to be used to develop batteries and other parts for electric cars. The plant, along with a GM plant in Wixom, Mich., are sharing in $105 million.

GM Vice Chairman Tom Stephens said the White Marsh plant was chosen because of its experience at building transmissions and electric drives.

The plant will have capacity build 40,000 electric motors, which can be used in both trucks and cars. Vehicles will have two electric motors and three planetary gear sets that transform power from a motor vehicles gas engine and battery to propel the vehicle.

All 200 jobs will not be created at the plant, but the plant will employ close to 400 people.

John Kimble, shop steward for the union workers at the plant, said there about 178 workers whose ranks would grow to about 400 with the new jobs. About 33 people have been laid off and will be brought back as production of its transmissions picks up.

Additional funding came from state, which gave about $4.5 million, and Baltimore County, which will give up to $6 million in grants and $150,000 to support training.

Stephens said that by designing the motors itself, GM can better control performance, quality and production processes.

"Our only level of competitive advantage is our ability to develop faster than the competition and apply it to great new vehicles," he said.

Stephens said the White Marsh plant was chosen because of its experience at building transmissions and electric drives.

Mike Galiazzo, executive director of the Regional Manufacturing Institute of Maryland, said the expansion gives a needed boost to the manufacturing industry during slow economic times.

"It's a bright spot," he said. "It's a good example of new technology creating new products which leads to jobs."

"GM Allison is really a spectacular operation," he said. "When we look at what we already have here, to me it makes sense to ask us to play this pioneering role with GM."