The arrival of the Two-Mode GM SUV's if finally upon us as the Baltimore Transmission plant officially launched full production of the new hybrid transmissions today. The plant in White Marsh Maryland employs approximately 415 hourly and salaried staff and has about 440, 000 sq. ft. of floor space. Since the plant opened in 2000 it has been producing the Allison 1000 series transmissions that are used in the heavy duty pickup. The plant has the capacity to produce 169,000 of the HD transmissions on straight time with three crews and last year produced a little of 180,000 with overtime.

In order to add production of the Two-Mode hybrids an additional 38,000 sq ft assembly room dedicated to the hybrid units was added to the plant. Another 40,000 sq ft for parts fabrication was freed up by moving other equipment around. Components like the gears, valve-body and the housing are machined on-site and the corresponding parts for the hybrid unit are made with the same equipment and processes. Read more about the Baltimore hybrid transmission plant after the jump.

[Source: General Motors]
For the 2008 model year production they have tooled up for 10,000 hybrid units for the Tahoe and Yukon with a single crew. That number will increase next spring after the Escalade and Sierra/Silverado pick-up hybrids are launched. Currently there are twenty-five hourly and fifteen engineering support staff dedicated to assembly of the new transmissions. Other staff in the parts fabrication areas are producing components for both transmissions. Of the 225 components in the hybrid transmission sourced from outside suppliers, seventy-eight percent are produced in the US. In the meantime, this plant will start shipping transmissions to Arlington, Texas for installation into the SUVs beginning next week. They should start appearing in showrooms after Thanksgiving.

The launch event included a variety of GM personnel including John Buttermore, and plant manager Tom Gallagher, as well as UAW representatives who made remarks. A variety of state, local and federal politicians including US Senators Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin (both Democrats) were also on hand to speak of how proud they were of GM and the union making this new product a reality. During the course of the event, plant transmission technician coordinator Johnnie Batts ceremoniously removed the first full production unit off the assembly line and placed it on the stage.

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