Manufacturing

General Motors announces investments in plants, 3D printing facility, GM Defense center

The new Additive Industrialization Center will be home to GM's 3D printing efforts.

Photo courtesy of General Motors

General Motors is in the midst of making a number of announcements regarding facility openings and investments. The latest news reveals that a new facility dedicated to 3D printing has just opened in Michigan; two GM engine plants, one in New York and another in Ohio, are getting upgrades; and subsidiary GM Defense is renovating a center in North Carolina for production.

Additive Industrialization Center

The 15,000-square-foot Additive Industrialization Center (AIC) has opened in Warren, Michigan. The center is new from the ground up and dedicated to the production of 3D parts that will be used throughout the GM lineup. GM is calling the center the "capstone" of their expertise.

"The core component of GM's transformation is becoming a more agile, innovative company, and 3D printing will play a critical role in that mission," said Audley Brown, GM director of Additive Design and Materials Engineering. "Compared to traditional processes, 3D printing can produce parts in a matter of days versus weeks or months at a significantly lower cost."

Inside the facility are 24 3D printers, which create polymer and metal solutions. Machines inside AIC are able to conduct selective laser sintering, selective laser melting, Multi-Jet Fusion, and fused deposition modeling. These technologies will be used to validate various applications for the parts in future vehicles, such as the Cadillac CT4-V Blackwing and CT5-V Blackwing. Chevrolet's race cars have also been trying out the parts.

Additionally, AIC is using the tech to create parts for retooling GM's production facilities. For the launch of the 2021 Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe, GMC Yukon, and Cadillac Escalade, GM"s 3D printing team printed nearly 100 hand tools. Normally, these tools would be made of aluminum and weight 10 to 40 pounds each. The new designs, printed using carbon fiber, weigh as little as three pounds and have

$76 million plant investment

General Motors engine plant Tonawanda New York Buffalo

The GM Tonawanda powertrain plant produces a number of engines for GM's trucks and SUVs.

Photo courtesy of General Motors

GM plans to invest $70 million into its Tonawanda, New York engine plant and over $6 million into its Parma, Ohio metal stamping plant. These manufacturing-related investments are being made to support demand for the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup trucks.

The Tonawanda investment will be used to increase capacity on the engine block machining line and the Parma investment will be used to construct four new metal assembly cells to support increased truck production volumes.

GM's New York plant currently produces the 4.3-liter V6, 5.3-liter V8, and 6.2-liter V8 family of engines for the Chevrolet Silverado, Suburban, and Tahoe; GMC Yukon and Yukon Denali; and Cadillac Escalade. It also builds the 6.6-liter V8 for Chevrolet Silverado HD and GMC Sierra HD pickups. The SUV models have all been completely redesigned for the 2021 model year, a move that is likely to spur increased sales in the model line.

The Tonawanda engine plant is home to approximately 1,300 employees. The plant's hourly workforce is represented by UAW Local 774.

Ohio's Parma Metal Center processes over 800 tons of steel per day and services and supports approximately 35 customers, including the majority of General Motors North America produced vehicles. The plant is capable of producing up to 100 million parts per year.

The plant employs approximately 1,000 employees. Hourly employees are represented by UAW Local 1005.

GM Defense renovates North Carolina technical center

GM Defense Concord North Carolina

GM is repurposing its Technical Center in North Carolina.

Photo courtesy of General Motors

GM Defense LLC, a subsidiary of General Motors, has begun renovations of an existing GM building in Concord, North Carolina to support the production of the Infantry Squad Vehicle (ISV). The company recently showed off the vehicle, which was part of the contract to create an agile all-terrain troop carrier. GM Defense won the $214.3 million contract for the production of the vehicles from the U.S. Army in June 2020 and the first ISV was delivered in October.

Construction at the 75,000-square-foot facility is expected to continue into early spring, with vehicle deliveries expected to begin in April. The facility will help to manufacture 649 ISVs and will support the production of up to 2,065 vehicles with additional authorization over eight years.

The location of the facility puts it near Hendrick Motorsports, which is already a Chevrolet partner for its various racing teams. Hendrick Motorsports is responsible for providing the chrome-moly steel exoskeleton of the vehicle frame, including the ISV ROPS system.

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Domino's and Nuro announced their partnership in 2019 — and now the robots are hitting the roads.

Photo courtesy of Nuro

After announcing their partnership to work on pizza deliveries via self-driving robots in 2019, Dominos and Nuro have officially rolled out their technology to one part of town.

Beginning this week, if you place a prepaid order from Domino's in Woodland Heights (3209 Houston Ave.), you might have the option to have one of Nuro's R2 robot come to your door. This vehicle is the first do deliver completely autonomously without occupants with a regulatory approval by the U.S. Department of Transportation, according to a news release.

"We're excited to continue innovating the delivery experience for Domino's customers by testing autonomous delivery with Nuro in Houston," says Dennis Maloney, Domino's senior vice president and chief innovation officer, in the release. "There is still so much for our brand to learn about the autonomous delivery space. This program will allow us to better understand how customers respond to the deliveries, how they interact with the robot and how it affects store operations."

Orders placed at select dates and times will have the option to be delivered autonomously. Photo courtesy of Nuro

Nuro Domino's delivery vehicle

The Nuro deliveries will be available on select days and times, and users will be able to opt for the autonomous deliveries when they make their prepaid orders online. They will then receive a code via text message to use on the robot to open the hatch to retrieve their order.

"Nuro's mission is to better everyday life through robotics. Now, for the first time, we're launching real world, autonomous deliveries with R2 and Domino's," says Dave Ferguson, Nuro co-founder and president, in the release. "We're excited to introduce our autonomous delivery bots to a select set of Domino's customers in Houston. We can't wait to see what they think."

California-based Nuro has launched a few delivery pilots in Houston over the past few years, including the first Nuro pilot program with Kroger in March 2019, grocery delivery from Walmart that was revealed in December 2019, and pharmacy delivery that launched last summer.

From being located in a state open to rolling out new AV regulations to Houston's diversity — both in its inhabitants to its roadways, the Bayou City stood out to Nuro, says Sola Lawal, product operations manager at Nuro.

"As a company, we tried to find a city that would allow us to test a number of different things to figure out what really works and who it works for," Lawal says on an episode of the Houston Innovators Podcast. "It's hard to find cities that are better than Houston at enabling that level of testing."

You can find out which self-driving vehicles are being tested in your neck of the woods by clicking here.


This article first appeared on AutomotiveMap's sister site InnovationMap.

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The 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 is on sale now.

Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG
The all-electric range of the 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 has been confirmed. The model is the first modern electric Volkswagen to be sold in the U.S. and a model that the German automaker is resting a lot of hopes on for the future of sales in the country.

The 2021 Volkswagen ID.4 Pro with all-wheel drive will achieve an EPA-estimated 260 miles of all-electric range on a full charge. The ID.4 Pro S and 1st Edition, which have more features and equipment and therefore weigh more, achieve an estimated 250 miles of range.

The EPA-estimated fuel economy for ID.4 Pro RWD is 107 MPGe in the city; 91 MPGe on the highway, and 99 MPGe combined. The ID.4 Pro S and 1st Edition does slightly worse achieving 104 MPGe in the city, 89 MPGe on the highway, and 97 MPGe combined.

2021 Volkswagen ID.4: Exterior The "1st" badging denotes the vehicle as a first edition model. Photo courtesy of Volkswagen AG

These new numbers come as part of a second round of EPA testing. Original testing found that the model did not quite hit its target.

How does that compare to other EVs? The Nissan Leaf Plus offers 226 miles of all-electric power. The Hyundai Kona Electric delivers 258 miles. Volvo's XC40 Recharge has just 208 miles of all-electric range but the Tesla Model Y can go up to 326 miles on one full charge.

First out of the Volkswagen gate will be ID.4 models with an 82-kilowatt-hour battery and rear-mounted AC permanent-magnet synchronous motor. That system delivers 201 horsepower and 228 pound-feet of torque.

At a public DC fast-charging station with 125 kW charging, the ID.4 can go from five to 80 percent charged in about 38 minutes. With purchase, ID.4 owners receive three years of unlimited charging at Electrify America DC Fast Chargers at no additional cost.

The 2021 ID.4 is on sale now, with pricing for the rear-wheel-drive ID.4 Pro starting at $39,995 MSRP, before a potential Federal tax credit of up to $7,500. The Pro S carries an MSRP of $44,495. The limited-run ID.4 1st Edition, which sold out the day the vehicle was launched, carried an MSRP of $43,995.

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