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GM's Baltimore Transmission Plant Begins Production Of 2-Mode Hybrid

General Motors' Baltimore Transmission Plant today officially began production of the auto industry's most technologically advanced hybrid transmission - the only hybrid transmission designed and built in the United States by a major automaker.

The 2-Mode Hybrid transmission will debut in the 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid and 2008 GMC Yukon Hybrid, the industry's only full-size hybrid SUVs. GM's Arlington, Texas, assembly plant will begin building the hybrid vehicles next month.

"This 2-Mode Hybrid transmission is not only shifting the gears in the 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon Hybrids, it's also helping shift GM's efforts to reduce gasoline consumption and emissions into overdrive," said John Buttermore, GM Powertrain vice president, global manufacturing. "Better yet, here in Baltimore we are showing that an American workforce is up to the task and can take the lead in advanced technology."

More than 500 highly trained U.S.-based GM engineers and more than 350 highly skilled United Auto Workers members are assigned to the 2-Mode program, researching, developing, validating and manufacturing the most technologically advanced hybrid system in the auto industry.

In addition to GM designing and producing the 2-Mode transmission in the United States, more than 75 percent of the program's suppliers are U.S.-based in 16 states.

GM invested $118 million to prepare the Baltimore Transmission Plant for production of the 2-Mode transmission, including new machinery and tooling and a 100,000-square-foot addition.

Next year, the Baltimore Transmission Plant will begin building 2-Mode Hybrid transmissions for another five hybrid vehicles, including the Cadillac Escalade full-size SUV and the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra Crew Cab full-size pickups.

"GM chose the Baltimore facility for the new transmission because this team has demonstrated, over and over again, its ability to meet and exceed industry benchmark standards in the areas of safety, quality, efficiency and competitiveness," Buttermore said. "Combined with its recent certification as a landfill-free facility, this plant is a great example of how GM is working to reduce the impact of both our operations and our vehicles on the environment."

An industry first for any full-size SUV, the patented 2-Mode Hybrid system allows the Tahoe and Yukon to return exceptional fuel economy in both city and highway driving while still delivering full-size SUV performance. Two-wheel-drive Tahoe and Yukon Hybrid models, for example, deliver 21 mpg in the city, a 50-percent improvement over their 5.3L non-hybrid siblings and the same city fuel economy as the much-smaller 2008 2.4L-equipped Toyota Camry sedan, according to EPA figures.

GM's 2-Mode Hybrid transmission reduces fuel consumption by providing electric-only launch and drive capability, engine-off at idle and during vehicle deceleration, electric boost to assist the gas engine and capturing electric energy during vehicle deceleration.

The key to GM's 2-Mode Hybrid transmission is its unique combination of two electric motors and four fixed gears, packaged within the same space as a conventional automatic transmission. This arrangement allows electrically variable operation, as well as providing four fixed gear ratios, providing advantages in combined (city and highway) fuel economy, dynamics and towing capability.

GM's Baltimore Transmission facility opened in 2000, and its 415 hourly and salaried workers also build the A1000 Series automatic transmission.

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