In December, Detroit, Michigan-headquartered car giant General Motors (GM) announced that it was looking to broaden its electric vehicle (EV) technology into new automotive applications. One of those new applications is ground support equipment and it is now collaborating with supplier Textron to support various elements of the company’s electric GSE vehicles
GM’s strategy will enable it to reach out to a larger, more diverse group of commercial customers, while also helping companies and organisations meet growing demand for zero-emissions technology and achieve their own sustainability targets.
Travis Hester, vice president of electric vehicle growth operations at GM, notes: “GM has an established strategy, network of integrators and co-development agreements to apply an extensive array of components and solutions to a broad range of customers and use cases.
“As companies across many industries look to reduce their environmental impact, GM is uniquely positioned to serve as a leader not only through exciting new EVs across our brands, but through additional technology applications, and we look forward to bringing customers – existing and new – along with us on our zero-emissions journey.”
One of the markets where GM will begin looking to offer greater EV support is the airport/aviation business and, in what it describes as “a strategic collaboration” with Textron, it is providing EV components to electrify the latter’s TUG™ line of baggage tractors, cargo tractors and belt loaders.
GM components are used in Powertrain Control Solutions (PCS) technology that integrate various parts into lithium-ion electric powertrains.
Providence, Rhode Island-based Textron is “excited to collaborate with renowned technology leaders GM and PCS to incorporate proven lithium technology into several Textron GSE electrification initiatives”, says Matt Chaffin, vice president at Textron GSE.
He explains: “Textron GSE will leverage synergies of the innovations across its TUG™, Premier™, Safeaero™ and Douglas™ product offerings where it can deliver sustainable solutions that benefit customers and the industry.”
Co-operation with Textron is not new. “Textron GSE has a long-standing relationship with both GM and PCS,” Chaffin observes. “The decision to collaborate with GM was made because of their expertise in lithium technology, commitment to future innovations and their impressive research, development, and testing processes.
“GM has been trusted to provide lithium vehicles for decades and has extensive expertise designing, developing, and supporting high-capacity lithium batteries.”
Meanwhile, “PCS is known throughout the aviation industry for its ability to deliver high-performing transmissions, drivelines and electric control modules to vehicle manufacturers. A supplier to GM, PCS is familiar with the technical requirements and specifications of the technology.”
Such collaboration helps Textron to innovate further in its product offerings. Says Chaffin: “Textron GSE is always looking for ways to strengthen its product portfolio to bring reliable, exciting ground support equipment to market and continually evaluates companies that offer technologies and solutions that align with its strategic roadmap.
“Textron GSE is confident that together with GM and PCS it will deliver highly efficient, sustainable products and technologies that offer unmatched performance for its customers.”
GM EV technology fits well with Textron’s corporate strategy and how it wants to move forward with environmentally friendly GSE. “Collaborating with GM and PCS, Textron GSE can expand its product innovations that support company and industry sustainability initiatives,” Chaffin notes.
“Textron GSE is committed to building a more sustainable world and controlling its impact through environmentally friendly products and technologies, green facilities, community stewardship and employee engagement.”
As such, it can support the wider industry effort to minimise the aviation sector’s impact on the environment. “Textron GSE is proud to play a leading role in delivering sustainable product solutions,” Chaffin declares.
“In fact, electric product offerings are already available in our lines of tractors, belt loaders and pushbacks. Additionally, our Intellimix™ technology designed for the Safeaero™ 220 de-icer has environmental benefits in the minimisation of water consumption and minimal chemical waste created during the de-icing process.”
Textron GSE forms part of Textron Specialized Vehicles (TSV), which in turn includes E-Z-GO. In 2017, E-Z-GO introduced its line of ELiTE lithium-powered vehicles. This range has been extremely successful, with over 110,000 of these lithium-powered vehicles now operating throughout the world.
“This sort of expertise with lithium technology allows Textron GSE and other TSV companies to leverage shared knowledge of existing and emerging technologies,” Chaffin points out.