General Motors Co. introduced new investments of almost $332 million for four of its GM Powertrain plants, and added $46 million to previously announced investment programs at two more operations. Two GM metalcasting plants will be involved in the capital programs.
The larger investment program aims to add capabilities for production of GM’s new Ecotec small gas engine, a new V6 engine, a new eight-speed transmission, and new tooling for a current six-speed transmission design.
The second set of outlays will support ongoing projects to support production of the new V6 engine.
The GM Bedford Castings plant in Bedford, IN, an aluminum melting, diecasting, and permanent mold foundry that produces transmission cases and converter housings will receive$29.4 million to update it operations. This will include $19 million to start production of components for the small gas engine and $10.4 million to produce components for GM’s new 8-speed and existing 6-speed transmissions.
Two years ago the Bedford plant was announced as the site of a $49-million program to install new tooling and production equipment for the 8-speed transmission program, and a small engine product that had not yet been announced.
The new investment program also includes $215 million for GM’s Flint engine plant, where the small Ecotec gas engines will be built. Also, the plant will update its tooling for the V6 engine it is producing now.
GM said more details about production plans for variants of the new Ecotec engine would be announced later. In the past, GM has said the new engine would replace three series of small engines with a new, modular design. The engine was co-developed with Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. (SAIC), Shanghai General Motors (SGM), and the Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center (PATAC).
High-volume engine production
It’s known there will be 3- and 4-cylinder versions, with displacements ranging from 1.0 to 1.5 liters. After a debut “mid decade,” volumes would reach 2 million engines per year by 2020.
GM’s Toledo (OH) Transmission Operation will receive $55.7 million to increase production capacity and add tooling to produce the new 8-speed automatic transmission (debuting for the 2017 model year) and a current-model 6-speed transmission.
The 8-speed automatic is among GM’s fuel-saving designs for high-performance engines. Details about the new V6 engine program also will be announced later, according to the automaker.
Last among the new projects will be $31.7 million for GM’s Bay City (MI) Powertrain plant, including $19.2 million to produce parts for a new V6 engine, and $12.5 million to produce parts for the new small Ecotec gas engine.
“We are investing in technologies and manufacturing capabilities that produce high-quality, fuel-efficient vehicles and components for our customers,” stated GM North American Manufacturing vice president Diana Tremblay.
“Today’s announcement demonstrates GM’s commitment to growing the business and strengthening the plant communities where we receive so much support,” she added.
For the second round of investments GM announced, the Saginaw, MI, aluminum foundry operation will draw another $41 million for a retooling project announced in late 2011, as part of production plans for the new V6 engine. The additions bring the total for this project at Saginaw to $256 million, the automaker said.
Finally, GM will add $5 million to the $390-million program announced previously to install capability for its new V6 engine at the Romulus (MI) Engine Operations.
None of the new investments are expected to result in new jobs at any of the six plants, but GM said about 1,650 jobs would be “retained” due to the projects.