GM partnering with Wabtec on electric freight locomotives

Wabtec Corp. says its FLXdrive is the world’s first 100% battery-powered, heavy-haul freight locomotive.


General Motors and Wabtec Corp. are partnering to develop and commercialize electric locomotives utilizing the automaker’s battery and gas cell applied sciences.

The firms introduced on Tuesday the signing of a nonbinding memorandum of understanding for GM to engineer and provide its Ultium battery and Hydrotec hydrogen gas cell programs for Wabtec freight locomotives.

“Wabtec’s decision to deploy GM’s Ultium battery and Hydrotec hydrogen fuel cell systems further validates our advanced technology and demonstrates its versatility,” GM President Mark Reuss mentioned in an announcement.

Implementation of the programs for the rail business would develop GM’s buyer base for the rising applied sciences, whereas giving Pittsburgh-based Wabtec a provider for battery and gas cells for electric locomotives.

Wabtec has developed and examined a battery-electric locomotive known as FLXdrive, which is powered by about 18,000 battery cells. The firm says the prototype was a part of a $22.6 million grant from the California Air Resource Board awarded to Wabtec, BNSF Railway and the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District. 

The firms declined to launch monetary phrases of the settlement or a possible time-frame for commercialization of a battery or gas cell-powered locomotive.