General Motors will play a pricey version of musical chairs and shift much of its alternative-fuel research from other locations to a central facility in Pontiac, Michigan. The move will require GM to spend $200 million on a new 138,000 square-foot test wing at the Global Powertrain Engineering Headquarters. Meanwhile, the Performance Build Center responsible for hand-assembled engines for the Chevrolet Corvette and other applications will move from Wixom, Michigan, to Bowling Green, Kentucky.
Moving several development groups to Pontiac will help GM consolidate three leased locations in the new wing. Electric-motor and performance engineering will shift from Wixom to Pontiac by the middle of 2015. By 2014, GM will transfer research on electric motors and power electronics from a facility in Torrance, California, to Pontiac. Work on heavy-duty truck transmissions, plus hybrid and battery-electric drive units, will move from Castleton, Indiana, to Pontiac by the middle of next year.
GM is already in the process of relocating fuel-cell research groups from New York to Pontiac. Having all the various teams in one location is supposed to improve collaboration and co-development across different powertrain research groups.
GM also announced that it plans to move its Performance Build Center from a nondescript warehouse in Wixom, Michigan, to Bowling Green, Kentucky. The PBC is the location where LS3, LS7, and LS9 engines for the Chevrolet Corvette are assembled by hand; the location also has programs for customers to build the engine for their own personal cars.
The move will place the PBC alongside Corvette production at the Bowling Green plant, meaning customers can build their own engine and then watch their new Corvette on the assembly line. Chevrolet will announce which engines can be built by customers at a later date -- the engines previously available in the program were for the sixth-generation Corvette, now replaced by the 2014 model.
"We host thousands of guests each year, many of whom are here to see their Corvette being built. Bringing the Performance Build Center here simply adds to the thrill of purchasing a Corvette and increases satisfaction for our customers and employees," plant manager Dave Tatman said in a statement.