General Motors’ new Ecotec small engine portfolio will include 11 engines, including three- and four-cylinder variants ranging from 1.0 L to 1.5 L displacements, including turbocharged versions, and power ratings from 75 to 165 hp. Shown are the Ecotec 1.4-L turbocharged engine (left), the Ecotec 1.5-L engine (center), and the Ecotec 1.0-L turbocharged three-cylinder engine (right).

GM Unveils New Small Engine Program

March 19, 2014
Modular architecture reduces complexity 2.5 million units/year $200-million retooling at Flint, Mich., plant

General Motors Corporation introduced a portfolio of 11 small-displacement engines based on a modular architecture that the automaker said offers “efficiency, refinement, and durability” to customers and reduces its own manufacturing complexity. The new engines, which pick up the OEM’s “Ecotec” brand, will be produced in five plants worldwide, reaching a total production volume of 2.5 million units by 2017.

The new Ecotec portfolio includes 11 engines with three- and four-cylinder variants ranging from 1.0 to 1.5 L – including turbocharged versions – and power ratings ranging from 75-165 HP (56-123 kW), and torque ranging from 70 to 184 lb-ft (95-250 Nm). All the new Ecotecs are calibrated to run on regular unleaded gas.

GM said the new design also would support hybrid propulsion systems and alternative fuels.

While the new Ecotec engines will be installed in several GM small cars and crossover vehicles, it said the first placements will be in the 2015 Chevrolet Cruze developed for the Chinese market, appearing late this year. “The new engine family is designed to achieve segment-leading refinement and efficiency,” according to Steve Kiefer, GM vice president, Global Powertrain Engineering, “and will make its way into five GM brands and 27 models by the 2017 model year.”

The first models to be produced will include 1.4 L turbocharged and 1.5-L naturally aspirated four-cylinder engines, for that Chevy Cruze model, and a 1.0-L turbocharged three-cylinder for the Opel Adam, to be produced in Europe.

GM indicated it would produce the new Ecotecs in at least five plants, including Flint, Mich., Shenyang, China; Szentgotthárd, Hungary; Toluca, Mexico; and Changwon, South Korea.  It noted that the Flint plant will be the site of $200 million worth of new technology and tooling investments in preparation for the new engine production.

The global production strategy will benefit from the portfolio’s modular parts scheme – e.g., four-cylinder and three-cylinder blocks that share bore spacing, bore diameter, liners and other dimensions — which reduces complexity and increases GM’s flexibility for adapting new applications quickly.

GM said its new engines are the result of “a clean-sheet design and engineering process” that accessed all its global resources. Technologies like central direct fuel injection, continuously variable valve timing, turbocharging and variable intake manifold airflow help achieve efficiency goals with broad power bands, for an optimal balance of strong performance and lower fuel consumption.

“The new Ecotec architecture represents the most advanced and efficient family of small-car gas engines in GM’s history,” said Tom Sutter, global chief engineer. “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.”

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