Feb 112010
ZX40ST Electric Truck
Image via Wikipedia

“SMOOTH and quiet as an electric motor” is a phrase that has been used repeatedly to compliment gasoline and diesel engines that are especially well-mannered.

As more hybrid and battery-electric vehicles enter the marketplace, though, the maxim is being transformed. Returning to a role in propelling vehicles that largely disappeared decades ago, electric motors are attracting attention from automakers, who see the need for hybrids and E.V.’s to have personality and character that parallels their brand’s image.

Electric motors have provided reliable power for everything from kitchen blenders to submarines for so long that they are taken for granted, considered commodity items like the hard drives in PCs. But as the electrification of vehicles advances, engineers are emphasizing the need for motors to display their carmaker’s DNA in the same way a high-revving V-8 does for Ferrari.

General Motors felt so strongly about this issue that it recently announced it would be the first major United States automaker to design and manufacture its own e-motors, for use in a new range of hybrid vehicles beginning in 2013.

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