General Motors (NYSE:GM) announced on Wednesday that it will be infusing its Flint, Michigan, assembly plants with $200 million to support the development and production of the next generation of Ecotec small-displacement engines, which rely on a more modular architecture “that broadens its adaptability to global markets and reduces manufacturing complexity — while offering customers leading-edge efficiency, refinement and durability,” the company said.
The new engines will find their way under the hoods of “many” of General Motors’ highest-volume small cars and compact crossovers, including the next iteration of the Chevrolet Cruze — one formatted specifically for China, which launches later this year as a 2015 model.
“Transportation solutions vary around the world and GM is committed to developing engines matched to the needs of the regions where they’re sold,” Steve Kiefer, GM’s vice president of Global Powertrain Engineering, said in the company’s release. “The new engine family is designed to achieve segment-leading refinement and efficiency, and will make its way into five GM brands and 27 models by the 2017 model year.”
There will be 11 new engines covered under the new initiative, either with three or four cylinders that range from 1.0 liter to 1.5 liters, including turbocharged versions. Power will reportedly span from 75 horsepower to 165 horsepower, and torque from 70 pound-feet to 184 pound-feet.
The biggest assets that these engines will possess will likely be fuel efficiency, and they will be built to support hybrid system and alternative fuel integration. No numbers were given, but General Motors says that thanks to central direct fuel injection, continuously variable valve timing, turbocharging, and variable intake manifold airflow, the new engines should represent some of the most efficient the company has developed to date.
“The new Ecotec architecture represents the most advanced and efficient family of small-car gas engines in GM’s history,” said Tom Sutter, the global chief engineer, in GM’s statement. “Along with performance and efficiency targets, we’ve also aimed for segment-leading refinement with low noise and vibration — and we’ve hit the bulls-eye.”
The engines are wallet-friendly in more ways than one. All will be designed to run on regular unleaded gas, including the turbos. The modular nature of the new blocks will “reduce complexity while increasing the flexibility to quickly adapt the architecture for new applications,” according to the company, and likely make needed repairs easier.