GM China opens Phase II of its GM China Advanced Technical Center in Shanghai, which includes an OnStar telematic lab, advanced research and development labs and advanced vehicle and powertrain engineering facilities.

“The completion of the Advanced Technical Center is an important milestone for GM in China,” says Bob Socia, GM China president and chief country operations officer-China, India and ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations).

“It gives us the most comprehensive automotive technical center in our largest market,” he says in a statement. “The ATC will serve not just China but also GM’s operations around the world.”

The research teams comprise up to 250 engineers and technicians focused on battery cells, lightweight materials, manufacturing processes, engines and transmissions. They also are developing mobile apps for connected urban driving, says Jon Laukner, GM chief technology officer and vice president-global research and development, who attended the center’s opening.

GM China’s Phase I facilities opened in September 2011.

Researchers already have made breakthroughs in the development of lightweight magnesium alloy to improve the vehicle fuel economy. The micro-foundry and formability lab has successfully achieved magnesium alloy low-pressure die-casting testing. This is a major milestone in lightweight materials research, Socia says.

The Phase II advanced design center includes state-of-the-art equipment to help designers develop future mobility solutions and technology integration.

“Our new advanced design center is part of the GM global design center network, which webs from California to Germany to India and Korea and points beyond, Wulin Gaowa, design director of the new center, says in a statement.

“We are building a team of talented local designers and modelers that will enable us to deliver world-class work for China and other markets.”

Designers will collect information on Chinese customer mobility behavior and needs, coupled with trends in automotive design and other industries in China that GM can apply globally.

The advanced technical center is putting special focus on developing and integrating advanced technology systems on Cadillac models, including in-vehicle connectivity systems, radar and cameras and ultrasonic sensors to give the vehicles crash-avoidance and automatic-braking capabilities.

GM China plans to introduce a new model each year in China through 2016, beginning with the Cadillac XTS early next year.