General Motors has decided to close its research center near Rochester, New York and to move work to its engineering center in Pontiac, Michigan. It appears that the reasons behind the move are numerous, including the expiration of GM’s lease at the Honeoye, New York facility in early 2013, as well as the benefits of unifying talent in one facility.
“The business reason behind this is there’s significant advantages related to the synergy of bringing that technical expertise to one location”, said GM spokeswoman Kim Carpenter. “There’s also some cost advantages,” Carpenter said. “We have space in our engineering headquarters.”
The move does not indicate a decrease in fuel cell research, according to Carpenter. “We’re continuing to develop this technology,” she said on Friday.
Carpenter added that most of the 220 salaried Rochester-based employees will be offered the chance to transfer to Pontiac. In addition, Carpenter said that the business environment in New York compared to that of Michigan did not play into the decision.
The GM Authority Take
The move makes total and complete sense to us: GM is a global company and it’s difficult enough to maintain research, development, and other operations around the world. As such, unifying high-level R&D into one location, where creative, developmental, and possibly cost-level synergies can undoubtedly be found, is a no-brainer.
Over the last few years, General Motors has been experimenting with fuel cell vehicles by introducing an experimental fleet of 119 (at last count) modified last-generation Chevrolet Equinoxes powered by hydrogen fuel cells. The automaker has launched a hydrogen infrastructure pilot program in Hawaii, introduced the first fuel cell-powered fleet for the military, and — as of 2010 — was looking to commence production of fuel cell-powered vehicles by 2015 – with upgraded motors. most recently, GM was discussing plans to collaborate on fuel cell vehicle research with BMW, but talks seem to have fallen through.
Nevertheless, the wide-scale proliferation of fuel cell vehicles seems to be a long ways off — since the infrastructure to support such transportation needs to be planned, developed, and built out. So for now, we’ll categorize mass adoption of fuel cell vehicles as “in the distant future”.