GM Plans To Build ‘Ecotec’ Small Engines By 2017

File photo of General Motors logo outside its headquarters at the Renaissance Center in Detroit

The General Motors logo is viewed outside its headquarters with the Renaissance Center in Detroit, Michigan with this file photograph taken August 25, 2009.


(Reuters) – General Motors Co (GM.N) on Wednesday announced a new generation of efficient small engines that it says will power 27 models in 64 countries by the 2017 model year.

The company stated it was trying to streamline production with a modular architecture from the 1-to-1.5-liter, 3- to 4-cylinder engines that will permit them to be adapted to varying needs in different global markets.

Among the initial models with all the new engines, to begin production by summer, will be the Chevrolet Cruze designed specifically for chinese people market and the Opel Adam in Europe.

GM is calling the brand new line of 11 engines “Ecotec” and will build them in five plants on three continents.

By 2017, the organization will build 2.5 million in the Ecotec engines for use by five different brands, or about 25 % of the vehicles the company will build. Currently, the most-often used engine at GM is really a 3.6-liter used in between 800,000 to 1 million cars and crossovers produced annually.

“We did not calculate the savings but it’s definitely substantial” in engineering and manufacturing, said Tom Sutter, global chief engineer of Ecotec engines.

Steve Kiefer, vice president for global powertrain engineering, said he believes GM’s key global competitors will not match the 2.5 million in annual production for any single “family” of engines by 2017.

Sutter said the new engines replace three engine “families” at GM but would not disclose which ones.

“Scale does matter, so I would say that our intention is the fact this would put us in front of scale, therefore economics, cost-effectiveness,” while not sacrificing or gaining when it comes to lower vibrations and noise, said Kiefer.

The compact Cruze sedan developed for China launches later this coming year with a 2015 model which will have 1.4-liter 1 and turbocharged.5-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder engines. The Adam to be purchased in Europe could have a 1-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine.

Each of the engines will run on regular unleaded gasoline, and in some European markets also on compressed natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas, and 100-percent ethanol in Brazil.

The 1.4-liter turbocharged engine will be up to 5 percent more efficient compared to the one it replaces, GM said. The new Cruze 1.4-liter engine will be 44 pounds (20 kg) lighter than the engine it replaces, which Sutter said had been a representative weight savings for most of the new line of engines.

The engines will produce from 75 horsepower (56 kilowatts) to 165 horsepower (123 kW), for use in models from minicars to mid-sized cars and crossovers, said Kiefer.

The engines will be built at one new plant, in Shenyang in China, and four existing plants, at Flint, Michigan in the usa; Toluca in Mexico; Szentgotthard in Hungary; and Changwon in South Korea.

Has not yet disclosed investments at the other plants, although gM will spend $200 million to upgrade the Flint factory.

Kiefer said GM, in a seven-year stretch ending in 2017, will have spent about $1 billion on global powertrain plants and designengineering and design centers.

Diesel will continue to be another engine type, but could be built at a number of the same plants, including the one out of Hungary, said Mattias Alt, Ecotec chief engineer for GM in Europe.

All of the engines will have the ability to use the fuel-saving, so-called “stop-start” process in which the engine shuts down when the vehicle is at traffic lights or else stationary in short periods of time. Stop-start will be a standard feature around the new Cruze in China.

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