General Motors has been making a big push toward (and a lot of noise about) electrification. That makes sense, and so far, what we've seen from the automaker has been cool. But GM isn't content to just do electric Hummers and Cadillacs; it also has its eye on other, less obvious markets, according to an announcement made by GM on Wednesday.
What markets? Well, there's the whole aftermarket electric conversion thing, which we've seen some of already. There are also things like marine propulsion, on-and-off-highway powertrain solutions and, most interestingly, airport support vehicles.
Why is the electrification of airport support vehicles interesting? Well, most of the baggage and cargo tractors and belt loaders being used all day, every day in airports around the world are powered by gasoline or diesel engines, and we're not always talking about cutting-edge, super-efficient small-displacement engines. Instead, they're often comparatively crude engines chosen for reliability, low maintenance needs and ease of service.
Switching these to electric power, then, is kind of a no-brainer. Electric drivetrains offer prodigious amounts of torque, low maintenance due to fewer moving parts and reduced running costs because electricity is cheaper than gasoline or diesel. The lack of tailpipe emissions is basically a cherry on top.
GM won't be building the electrified support equipment itself. Instead, it will provide the components to a company called Powertrain Control Solutions, which will work with Textron Ground Support Equipment, Inc.
It's not totally clear yet when this particular partnership will bear fruit, but we're excited. Electrifying this kind of stuff seems more straightforward as well as an excellent place to make a real dent in carbon emissions, and we hope GM expands this sort of thing even further.