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General Motors Unveils Fuel-Efficient Ecotec Engine Family

March 21, 2014

Say hello to Ecotec engines, General Motors’ latest engine family which is smaller, quieter and more fuel-efficient compared to rival models. The number one automaker in the United States recently unveiled the engines at its powertrain engineering headquarters located in Pontiac, Michigan.

The Ecotec family will consist of a total of 11 three- and four-cylinder engines, with displacement between 1.0 liter to 1.5 liters. The engines differ based on market and application—some come with direct fuel injection and turbocharging, while others have port-injection or are naturally aspirated. As expected, there will be a hybrid option.

The output of the Ecotec family will range from 75 to 165 horsepower and 70 to 184 foot-pounds. As for transmissions, the different engines will be available in manual, automatic, continuous and dual clutch.

The new powerplants, which come complete with aluminum blocks and heads, are modular and can therefore be produced on the same production line. The engines will have the same bore spacing, bore diameter and liners, among others.

According to GM, the commonality of the powerplants will enable the company to streamline engineering and production.

Meanwhile, the architecture allows the engines to be modified according to the different needs of the markets. According to Steve Kiefer, GM vice president of global powertrain engineering, “Transportation solutions vary around the world, and GM is committed to developing engines matched to the needs of the regions where they’re sold

All members of the Ecotec engine family, including the turbocharged variety, will use regular unleaded gasoline. However, other options will be available for specific markets. For instance, the engines to be utilized in Brazil will be designed to also use 100-percent ethanol. In some European countries, these will be made to run on compressed natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas.

The Ecotec engines will be built in GM’s assembly plants across the globe, with each plant making engines specifically for its own market. Production will be spread out at the factories in Shenyang, China; Changwon, South Korea; Toluca, Mexico; Szentgotthard, Hungary; and Flint, Michigan. The latter received $200 million for the production of the newest engine family.

GM first spoke about its new family of small engines during Chevrolet’s 100th anniversary celebration in Detroit in 2011. The new generation engines will be replacing three of GM’s current engine families, but the company did not specify these. Right now, the engine most commonly used by the automaker is a 3.6-liter. It is built into 800,000 to 1 million cars and crossovers every year.

The Ecotec family will be used in five of the automaker’s brands and is expected to power 27 models in 64 countries by model year 2017.

Production of the first Ecotec engine, a 1.0-liter turbo three-cylinder, is underway. The first model to be powered by the engine is the Opel Adam city car to be sold in Europe. It will be followed by the 2015 Chevrolet Cruze C-car for the Chinese market. The Cruze will come with 1.4L turbocharged and 1.5L naturally aspirated four-cylinder options.

The Ecotec family will rival Ford’s EcoBoost engines, which include the three-cylinder engine currently found in the 2014 Ford Fiesta subcompact and coming soon in the 2015 Ford Focus compact.

Photo credit: © General Motors CC BY-NC

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