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GM to Double Global Production of Small Four-Cylinder Engines by 2011; New $370M Plant in Flint

The new 1.4L turbo for the Cruze. Click to enlarge.

GM will double its global production of small four-cylinder engines (1.0L to 1.4L) by 2011, with more than half of the increase coming in North America. The strategy is highlighted by an all-new, 1.4L Turbo engine that will power the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze.

To support that expansion, GM will invest $370 million in the US to build a new manufacturing plant in Flint, Michigan for the global 4-cylinder engines. The plant will begin production in the US in 2010, and will build two engines: the 1.4-liter turbo for the Chevrolet Cruze and a 1.4-liter naturally-aspirated variant for the Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric vehicle (E-REV).

The 1.4L naturally-aspirated range extender for the Volt. Click to enlarge.

Estimated power ratings for the 1.4L Turbo will be 140 horsepower (104 kW) with a torque rating of 148 lb-ft (200 Nm). (Earlier post.) The 1.4L’s turbocharger is integrated within the exhaust manifold, for reduced weight and greater packaging flexibility in smaller vehicles. A reinforced crankshaft and stronger connecting rods are unique, delivering additional strength to support the engine’s pressurized, high-rpm performance.

With a power density of 100 hp per liter, the new turbocharged 1.4L has the power of a larger engine but retains the efficiency of a small-displacement four-cylinder in most driving conditions. In addition to the Chevrolet Cruze, GM will introduce the 1.4L turbo in the US in two additional GM models in 2011.

GM’s small four-cylinder gasoline engines include displacements of 1.0L, 1.2L and 1.4L. The engines were designed with fuel efficiency in mind, including technology such as full variable valve timing that optimizes power and fuel efficiency across the rpm band.

Torque for these engines is generated at lower rpm, for strong, off-the-line launches and confident acceleration at all speeds. Supporting powertrain features, such as torque converter design and transmission gearing, accentuate engine power.

All engines in the family share design elements including:

  • Dual overhead camshafts
  • Roller-finger follower valvetrain
  • Chain-driven camshafts
  • Flow-controlled oil pump
  • Piston-cooling oil jets
  • Thermal management

The engines also incorporate numerous mass-reducing features, including a cast iron block with a hollow frame structure, hollow-cast camshafts, and on non-turbo engines, crankshafts with hollow-core main bearing journals and connecting rod journals.

One-third of GM’s North American engine volume will be four-cylinders by 2011, and 21% percent of the four-cylinder volume will be turbocharged—a seven-fold increase over today’s volume of turbo engines.

The Chevy Cruze compact car that will be built for worldwide distribution at GM’s Lordstown, Ohio facility. It will be offered with the 1.4L Turbo in North America, along with additional small-displacement engines for models sold outside of North America.

The new Flint plant. The investment in the Flint engine plant includes construction of the new 552,000 ft2 plant, machinery, equipment and special tooling to support production of the new 4-cylinder engines. In addition to the $349 million facility investment, GM will invest an additional $21 million for vendor tooling to support the new Flint operations. Construction on the new facility is slated to begin immediately, with completion in 2010. The project will retain about 300 hourly jobs.

Approximately 300 highly flexible stations will allow assembly of multiple 4-cylinder engine families without retooling. The plant will be a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified facility. The plant will be landfill free, meaning no waste from manufacturing operations will go to landfills, but will be recycled, reused or converted to energy.

The investment in Flint is one of several that have been announced at US plants in the past 10 years, adding up to more than a $9 billion total investment in Michigan and more than $42 billion in the United States.



"The engines also incorporate numerous mass-reducing features, including a cast iron block with a hollow frame structure, hollow-cast camshafts, and on non-turbo engines, crankshafts with hollow-core main bearing journals and connecting rod journals."

If you made the block aluminum, you might not need the hollow cam and crankshafts.

Another new GM plant goes forward?? I thought these guys were BK.


To all GM-bashers, please explain how a plant right here in the USA that cranks out small 4-cyl engines for the global market is necessarily a bad thing.

It sure beats news of more lost jobs and shuttering plants. Plus, it's a step away from the gas-guzzling V8's the big 3 have been offering for so long.

Yes, I am pleased that SUV/pick-up sales are plummetting. But I'd be happier knowing that we can help our economy by keeping Americans employed- in this case- by building smaller, fuel efficient vehicles right here in the USA.

In the age of increasing fuel prices, the Volt may become GM's halo car, but the Cruze will most likely become their sales volume leader. I know I would line up to buy a 40mpg non-hybrid 1.4 turbo Chevy Cruze.

I welcome this news as a positive trend. Good job GM.


Diesel Hybrid - well said. It's great to see new factories building smaller, fuel efficient ICEs that are safe, and put people to work. We have consensus.


For the Cruze, I predict that the current single value EPA efficiency figure would be lucky to hit 30 miles per gallon, nevermind 40. Only a diesel or a substantial hybrid can hit 40 overall. Even the EPA highway mileage figure will probably be well short of 40 for the Cruze. Why BASII won't be standard (or even available) is anyone's guess.



I would take that bet. You are betting that the EPA combined will be "lucky" to hit 30mpg (I take this to mean your wager is that it will be 29.9mpg or less) and that the highway figure will be "well short of" 40mpg (not sure what this means but if you are guessing the combined figure will be less than 30mpg I would have to guess "well short of" means you are estimating a highway figure of less than 37mpg).

I *predict* that the Cruze will do better than your pessimistic guess (which is probably based solely on your hatred of GM and nothing else).

Lets take a look at a few facts here: With the Cobalt XFE using an oversized 2.2L motor they are able to "optimize" for highway fuel economy (lower final drive, low rolling resistance tires, minimalistic weight) of 37mpg using the 2008+ EPA fuel economy standards when the same car was only able to achieve 22 city/31 highway in 2006. Given that the 2009 Cobalt XFE with a 2.2L engine already achieves 30mpg combined we can see where you are already losing the wager...

Brian P


The counterpoint is that the cast iron block (which costs less to manufacture) allows the turbo to be included with the complete engine still being affordable.


Great to see GM finally make a proper move. A mild hybrid system should be a low cost add on as the electrically driven pumps and air compressor could all be taken from the Volt production line. Just add a decent size battery and a decent size starter/motor and you're in business.

Add a hydraulic IVT with the mild hybrid and you're looking at 50mpg+.



That makes some sense. I was just figuring that maybe hollow camshafts and crankshafts had a price too.


Good to see the engines are going to be built in the U.S. Now if they could someway make the rest of the parts here that would really help the economy.



Spot on, dude. More fuel will be saved by common small cars (<$20K), than exotic expensive ones (Volt, etc).

I really like the Volt - but at $30-35K, it isn't the thing for someone on a truly tight budget.


It would get better mileage with a BAS system, but going from 35 to 50 mpg doesn't save much fuel really. In a very price-sensitive market segment, I'm not sure that makes sense. (I really want to buy a Prius, but the numbers tell me to keep my Corolla - at least until gas prices go alot higher)



"If you made the block aluminum, you might not need the hollow cam and crankshafts."

Tooling cost can be less for aluminum, but my guess is that they may have done it for noise and vibration dampening of the 4 cylinder as well. Also aerospace materials are very pricey these days, i.e. aluminum, my guess is their might have been a pricepoint advantage as well.

As far as the hollow crank journals and cams....
The cams is a way to reduce mass, Toyota has been doing it for a while. I doubt they are cast, but it could be easily done that way or some sort of powered metal technology.
On the Cranks, that has been a high-performance trick, but my guess is they are using it to reduce mass on the non-turbo applications.

There may have been some trade-offs to obtain an overall price point. Notice the Roller fingered valve rockers, they can be pricey for this lower friction item, so they may have had to make up the cost somewhere.

My question is will both engines be Direct Injected.....

Will S

What vehicle(s) will be powered by the 1.0 liter engine? It sounds like it is either a hybrid, a very small car, or both.

It's time to bring back GM's Lean Machine, Runabout, or XP 511.


This is off topic, but I found it interesting because I did not know this.
The EV1 had CNG, series hybrid and fuel cell versions.
I thought that if they combined dual fuel CNG with the series hybrid, it might have been a winner.

Brian P

few points from that article:

No direct injection. Fuel economy targets were met without it. In any case, the restrictive NOx standards preclude the use of lean-burn with direct-injection in USA, and unless you can use lean burn, there is little to be gained by direct injection, and the cost is high.

The non-turbo version (Volt) will be flex-fuel capable. Don't know yet about whether the turbo version will have this.

Cruze is expected to get 40 mpg US with the 6 speed automatic. Nothing wrong with that.


Every turbo car I know of requires premium fuel to maintain detonation margins due to the high cylinder pressures under boost.


What's interesting about this new engine is that combined with the new six-speed automatic GM will use on the Cruze, the resulting car will be surprisingly good highway fuel economy (40 mpg in the EPA 2008 test is not out of the question).


By the way, even in Europe direct fuel injection is still relatively uncommon, because if use GDI with lean burn you have to switch to an EXPENSIVE "deNOx" catalytic converter that requires gasoline with very low sulfur content (under 10 parts per million). BMW has done this with only their higher-end models, mostly because they just justify the high expense of such a system on a premium model.


While I'm all for building ANY new manufacturing plants here in the US, manned by Amercian workers, can someone please tell me why in the world you need to spend hundreds of millions of dollars, with taxpayer-subsidized auto-industry loans, to construct an entire plant just to build one model of engine???? Didn't they just retool the Saturn factory to change engines, etc.? While I certainly do not pretend to know anything about auto manufacturing (although I did enjoy the plant tour at Ford the other year), it is actually very concerning that US manufacturers seem to have fits whenever a change like this occurs. Why can't they retool a plant to make different kind of engines or vehicles. Or, (gasp) even produce different types at the same time....

I mean for goodness' sakes, the Japanese seem to be able to retool, and so do the Europeans! GM and Ford are actually building wonderful, small, efficient 4-cylinder powerplants in Europe and other countries, seemingly without difficulty. Yet we in the US get none of them! And certainly none of GM/Ford's efficient Euro diesels! So here in the US they can't switch over to building new engines, or similar or the same model engines as they do in Europe without building entire new factories?

This seems a little 19th Century to me. Are they using steam engines and coal in their factories?

Gd help the, er, "Big" Three when we really start demanding small diesels! They'll go into convulsions over that. Oh well, VW and Honda will simply fill the need....

stas peterson

@ Raymond,

Why do you assume that Europe has advanced emissions standards or its cars are equipped with advanced pollution controls? They are not. Your manufacturers save the good stuff for what they export to us.

They let you have the "pollution pigs" to sicken and kill you. And your phony greens let them do so.

US emissions controls standards are years ahead of the EU. We can use GDI, and it is appearing on US vehicles, because they have the emissions control systems in place already, to benefit from it already.

Someday in a decade or two, with hypothetical EU8, or EU9, your emissions standards will equal ours, and by then your emissions equipment will be able to take advantage of GDI too.

In the US, HCCI will start appearing in a few years. Meanwhile CARB, the California emissions organization, already lists 56 car models that achieve PZEV or AT-PZEV ratings in 2008. As the ratings say, these vehicles have essentially zero emissions. Many more will follow in the coming years.

The only area that EU standards may be tougher are in the area of non-driving emissions. But that benefit comes from the non-volatile diesel fuels that power so many EU vehicles. The whole point of PZEV is to produce zero emissions while moving, so called SULEV II, and while parked, PZEV or AT-PZEV, while using more volatile gasoline fuels.


Great idea, however it looks to me as a copy of the technology already used in Europe i.e. FIAT T-Jet engines or Audi 1.4L TFSI. Where 1.4 engine has 150HP output. I am wondering why GM is pushing this technology which will be old in 2010? For me as european seems to be a bit strange. I am owning a 1.9 16v Multijet 150HP diesel car (bought in 2005) with average consumption approx. 55MPG but it can be improved to over 60MPG if driving economically. I really do not see the hybrids competitivity in economy at present stage unless they offer consumption over 100+MPG at reasonable initial price. I am believing that nature of progress will push us towards electric vehicles, perhaps through hybrids. However, gaining a small benefits at high cost is not a great advantage.

Bruno Cipolla

About small 4 cylinder engines...
Many small cars in europe already use three cyl. engines
Fiat is about to produce a two cyl. engine...


Actually, if I remember correctly the Volkswagen 1.4 TSI engine is based on the Twincharger idea, where you run a supercharger at lower speeds and a turbocharger at higher speeds. While it works the mechanical complexity of the idea and the likely need to use 91 pump octane gasoline may prohibit its use in the USA even if the engine meets EPA Tier 2 Bin 5 emission rules.

What GM did with its new 1.4-liter turbocharged engine is actually more impressive considering it was done with probably only one piece of modern technology (namely variable valve timing).

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