General Motors today begins construction on a new facility at its Pontiac, MI, powertrain headquarters focusing on race-engine design and development, as well as an electric motor laboratory and gear center.

Part of a $200 million investment announced last year to consolidate nearly all of GM’s North American advanced propulsion work, the automaker expects the facility 30 minutes north of Detroit to be operational by mid-2015 and in complete use by 2016.

The cornerstone of the new construction is a 138,000-sq.-ft. (12,820-sq.-m) test wing housing the GM Performance and Racing Center. GMPRC will work on powertrain-related projects for Chevrolet and Cadillac racing teams in a variety of motorsports circuits, such as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, and underscore a belief that racing serves as the ultimate test ground for technologies heading into GM production vehicles.

It also should inject a measure of enthusiasm into the 3,500 engineers on the campus.

“Connecting our race engineers with our global powertrain engineering teams will improve our customers’ powertrains in terms of efficiency, reliability and durability,” says Steve Kiefer, vice president-GM Global Powertrain. “The center will also provide exciting career opportunities for our engineering organization.”

GM runs one of the most successful motorsports enterprises in the industry.

Chevrolet has won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Manufacturers’ Cup an unprecedented 37 times, including the past 11 consecutive years. The Chevy team also leads all manufacturers in the series with 722 victories.

In its 15 years, Corvette Racing has won 10 manufacturer titles in GT competition and posted 92 global wins, including seven class wins in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Team Cadillac, racing since 2004, has notched 24 wins, 82 podium finishes and 20 pole positions. The team won the World Challenge Manufacturer Championship in 2005, 2006, 2012 and 2013.

GM’s bowtie brand returned to open-wheel racing in 2012 to win the Verizon IndyCar Series Engine Builders title and has gone on to capture 23 of the 37 races held since. Chevy also won the IndyCar Manufacturers Championship in 2012 and 2013, and it put drivers on the pole for the Indianapolis 500 in both 2012 and 2013. Tony Kanaan won the 2013 Indy 500.

“The GM Performance and Racing Center will serve as a resource to help our race teams and drivers continue to win races and championships,” says Jim Campbell, U.S. vice president-Performance Vehicles and Motorsports. “It will also help advance technical sharing between racing and production engine programs.”

The new facility will house important work on electric motors and transmission gears, too, areas of expertise necessary to meet tightening global fuel-economy and carbon-dioxide emissions rules.

GM says the electric motor lab builds prototype electric motors and validates manufacturing processes used in the production of electric and hybrid vehicle motors. The work plays a significant role in the development, sourcing and manufacturing of EVs and their major components.

The gear center focuses on the design, manufacturing processes, inspection techniques and testing of gears used in the next generation of GM transmissions, the automaker says.

jamend@wardsauto.com