GM Is Becoming More Like Tesla. Check Under the Hood.

Tesla vc General Motors

U.S. automotive giant General Motors is one of the traditional car makers pushing most aggressively into Tesla’s territory.



In its latest move, GM (ticker: GM) unveiled all-new electric-vehicle motors that will power its EV models. The designs include a 180-kilowatt front-drive motor, 255-kilowatt rear- and front-drive motor, and 62-kilowatt all-wheel drive-assist motor. A 180-kilowatt motor generates about 240 horse power. The 255-kilowatt version puts out the equivalent of about 340 horsepower.

The fastest EVs these days—including the Tesla (TSLA) Model S Plaid edition—have three motors, generating more than 1,000 horsepower. Each Plaid motor, for instance, puts out roughly 350 horsepower—similar to the GM 255-kilowatt motor.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk is very proud of Tesla-developed motors, boasting about the new S motors when the company when it launched the update sedan in May.

He explained the motors have a carbon “over-wrapped” rotor. It makes faster acceleration possible by enabling the engine to spin faster without coming apart. It’s a change, but some things will stay the same. Motor heads will have a future diving deep into electric motors—just like they do now, tearing apart carburetors.

“20 years of electric-drive-system development and more than 100 years of high-volume vehicle engineering are helping GM pivot quickly from conventional vehicles to EVs,” GM president Mark Reuss said in the company’s news release. “Our vertical integration in this space, encompassing both hardware and software, helps give us control over our own destiny and a significant competitive advantage.”



Car companies aren’t going to outsource electric motors, just like they control the design and production of internal-combustion engines today.

Tuesday’s announcement is another step in the transformation of GM. The company wants to have an all-electric line up by 2035. The company has announced plans to spend about $35 billion between today and 2025 on electric and autonomous vehicle development. That spending will provide GM with its own battery manufacturing capacity–similar to Tesla–as well as 30 EV models in showrooms by 2025.

The vision is bold, but GM stock has hit a rough patch lately. Shares are down about 17% over the past three months, but they still sport an 18% year-to-date gain, similar to comparable gains of the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average.

GM stock was upended after the company gave disappointing earnings guidance for the second half of the year in early August on its second-quarter earnings conference call. The global semiconductor shortage and the Chevy Bolt recall is weighing on results.

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