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GM plans high-tech small engines for Volt and Cruze

Automotive New reports on new, high tech engines from GM for the Volt and Cruze.

Automotive News

FLINT, Mich. -- The Chevrolet Volt got a little closer to the production line last week when General Motors committed $370 million for a new plant here that in two years will start cranking out 800 1.4-liter engines a day.

The plant will make two versions of the 1.4-liter engine. A turbocharged version rated at 140 hp will go into the Chevrolet Cruze compact. A nonturbo version will be for the plug-in Volt.

The cars, which share an architecture, are due in late 2010. GM officials would not say how powerful the Volt's engine will be.

GM is buying the Volt's electric motor from a supplier but may replace it with one that GM engineers are designing, said Tom Stephens, GM executive vice president of global powertrain. He said the GM-designed electric motor could be used in the next-generation Volt.

Unlike a regular gasoline car engine, the Volt's 1.4-liter won't be connected to the wheels. Instead, it will power a generator to make electricity for the car's motor.

Stephens said the Volt's engine will be tuned to run in certain rpm ranges where it will use the least fuel. He also said it won't act like a regular engine when a Volt driver steps on the gas pedal because the revving of the engine isn't related to vehicle speed.

Stephens said the engines will have premium features such as dual overhead cams, special oil pumps and variable valve timing, all of which boost fuel efficiency.

"We expect the Cruze to be the segment leader in fuel economy," Stephens said during a press conference to announce both engines.

The Cruze, about the size of a Ford Focus, will have one of the smallest engines on the market. But Stephens said the 1.4-liter turbo will deliver the performance of a larger engine. Honeywell Transportation Systems will supply the turbochargers.

The two Flint engines are part of a family of small four-cylinders GM has built around the world in varying sizes since 1997. The smallest is 1.0 liter. GM has no plans to launch that engine in a North American product. The 1.4-liter Flint engines are a new size that, so far, will be unique to North America.

By 2011, Stephens predicted, one-third of GM's North American engines will have four cylinders.

(Source: Automotive News)