GM Aims To Cut Fuel Bills With New Ecotec Small Gasoline Engines | Edmunds

GM Aims To Cut Fuel Bills With New Ecotec Small Gasoline Engines

Just the Facts:
  • General Motors is ready to launch a new generation of Ecotec small gasoline engines it says will improve fuel efficiency and deliver new levels of refinement.
  • The modular engines will come in three- and four-cylinder configuration and range in size from 1.0 liter to 1.5 liters, totaling an eventual 11 different variants.
  • The first vehicles to use the new Ecotec engines will be the Opel Adam subcompact car in Europe and the next-generation Chevrolet Cruze in China, with U.S. models coming soon.

PONTIAC, Michigan General Motors engineers unveiled here today an all-new generation of downsized gasoline engines for its longstanding Ecotec engine family that the company says will generate outstanding performance while improving fuel economy and offering world-class refinement.

The new Ecotec engines will come in three- and four-cylinder layouts, all with dual overhead camshafts, and range in displacement from 1.0 liter to 1.5 liters. Some will have direct fuel injection and some will be turbocharged, making for an eventual family of 11 different configurations. Power ratings, engineers said, will range from 75-165 horsepower, with torque output running the gamut of 70 pound-feet to as much as 184 lb-ft.

The modular, all-aluminum Ecotec engines were designed with cutting fuel bills as a primary goal. GM says they will also improve the small-engine experience by delivering levels of refinement better than similar-sized engines from Ford and Volkswagen.

"We left nothing on the table when it came to designing the all-new Ecotec engine family," said Tom Sutter, global chief engineer. "With the experience and expertise pooled from GM's engineering centers in North America, Europe and Asia, these engines incorporate the performance, efficiency, durability and refinements customers in all global markets are seeking."

Alas, you'll have to wait a while before considering a GM vehicle with one of the new, fuel-stingy Ecotec engines: The first vehicles slated for the new-generation power plants are the Opel Adam subcompact car for Europe and a new version of the Chevrolet Cruze compact car to be launched in China.

The 1.0-liter turbocharged three-cylinder for the Opel Adam makes as much power as the non-turbocharged 1.6-liter it replaces while producing an estimated 20 percent improvement in fuel economy, engineers said.

The 1.4-liter turbocharged variant of the new Ecotec family will increase fuel economy by 5 percent compared with the same engine today, currently used in the Chevrolet Sonic and Cruze small cars and Buick Encore subcompact crossover.

GM sources here wouldn't commit to naming the first car U.S. customers will be able to buy with one of the new engines, but good bets include a redesigned Chevy Cruze for 2015, Chevy's Sonic and Spark and a projected new range of subcompact crossovers for Chevy, Buick (which already has the Encore small crossover) and potentially even Cadillac.

The company did say in a release that by 2017, the new Ecotec engines will power 27 different GM models around the globe.

Engineers also said the new Ecotec engine architecture was designed to be used for hybrid-electric models and with the capability of running on alternative fuels. And, with intriguing possibilities for the U.S., the new Chevy Cruze will couple an all-new, dual-clutch automated manual transmission with the 1.4-liter turbocharged engine.

Five global manufacturing plants will build the new family of Ecotec engines, including GM's engine plant in Flint, Michigan, in which the company said it has invested in excess of $200 million in upgrades

Edmunds says: GM is raising the bar for small-engine efficiency, but if the promised new levels of refinement are tangible, that may be the best news for consumers as the inevitable trend toward smaller engines continues.

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