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Tiny engines on way from giant GM

2014-03-20 12:24

TINY TOTS: General Motors will roll out 11 new three and four-cylinder engines by 2017 and the Opel Adam (above) will be first to benefit. Image: SERGIO DAVIDS

PONTIAC, Michigan — General Motors is following the lead of its rivals by downsizing engines. The automaker will launch four tiny three-cylinder engines by 2017 with other configurations to come.

General Motors will be the latest automaker to shrink its enginesto meet stricter fuel-efficiency standards, according to the Detroit News.

The new three-cylinder units are part of General Motors’ 11 new EcoTec engines of one to 1.5-litre capacity and either three or four cylinders.

GM says the smaller and consequently lighter engines, along with new software to manage them, will appear in 27 models across five in-house global brands by 2017 - that covers very small, small and midsize cars, as well as compact crossovers.


The Detroit News reported that GM estimates “substantial” cost savings with the engines because at least 10 units share many identical or similar components, such as sensors and fasteners.

Steve Kiefer, GM’s VP of global powertrain engineering, told the DetNews the new 1.4 turbo EcoTec would be five percent more fuel-frugal than the same-size unit it will replace. Engines will also be significantly quieter than some of its competitors’ smaller turbo units.

The new EcoTec units will debut in the Opel Adam in the international market while the next-generation Chevrolet Cruze, due in 2015, will be one of the first cars in the US market to have the new unit.

In 2013 Ford introduced a one-litre, three-cylinder version of its EcoBoost engine to the US market in its small Fiesta.

Tom Sutter, global chief engineer for GM’s EcoTec engines, said: “The one-litre direct-injection turbo EcoTec will be more efficient than that in the Fiesta.”

Mitsubishi offers a three-cylinder in its Mirage; Smart’s ForTwocomes with a three-cylinder engine, reminds the DetNews, and adds that market researcher LMC Automotive estimates that by 2018 “production of three-cylinder engines will reach about 9.8-million, nearly double the current rate".

GM says it will make about 2.5-million EcoTecs a year by 2017 at five plants globally.

GM’s new engines for the next three years

 1.0 port-fuel injection (PFI)
 1.0 direct-injection turbo
 1.0 bi-fuel liquid petroleum gas
 1.1 PFI

 1.4 PFI
 1.4 direct-injection turbo
 1.4 turbocharged compressed natural gas
 1.4 turbocharged E100
 1.5 direct injection
 1.5 direct injection turbo

 Hybrid variant

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