GM, Pontiac, and Engine Engineering

Gary S. Vasilash

The man with the look of pleased incredulity on his face in this photo is Michigan governor Rick Snyder.


(GM photo by Jeffrey Sauger)

The photo was taken at a GM press conference in Pontiac, Michigan.

As you will recall, GM no longer builds Pontiacs.

No, the city wasn’t named after the car. Nor vice versa. Both were named after an 18th-century Ottawa Indian chief of that name (a.k.a., Obwandiyag).

Snyder is happy because GM has announced that it is investing $200-million in its Global Powertrain Engineering Headquarters. Which is in Pontiac.

The money will be used to construct a 138,000-square-foot addition for additional engineering work at the complex. The powertrain development center in Pontiac measures 450,000-square feet.

The governors of Indiana and California aren’t as chuffed as Snyder because development centers in those states are being consolidated into the Global Powertrain Engineering site. The governor of New York was previously made unhappy because GM had previously announced the closing of its hydrogen fuel cell facility in Honeoye Falls, NY; its work is also part of the consolidation.

And it isn’t all cakes and crumpets for Snyder, either, as the work performed at the GM Wixom, Michigan, Advanced Engineering Lab is moving to Pontiac, and the GM Performance Build Center, also of Wixom, where things like Corvette engines are hand-built, is moving to Bowling Green, Kentucky.  (The Corvette, not coincidentally, is produced in. . .Bowling Green, Kentucky.)

With the consolidation, the Powertrain Development Center will have electric motor engineering development and engineering, powertrain electronics, transmission electronics, hybrid systems, and good-old internal combustion engine development all under one roof.

As Sam Winegarden, GM vice president of Global Engine Engineering, put it, “These moves will help our entire Powertrain team work more effectively across the organization to develop the powertrain technologies we need to build the world’s best vehicles for our customers around the world.”