September 25, 2008

Resurgence in Flint: Volt, Cruze engines to be built in Michigan

General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner announced today that the automaker will build engines for the Chevrolet Volt and Chevrolet Cruze in Flint, Michigan at a entirely new plant. Construction of the new factory will commence immediately.

The plant will begin producing the company's new 1.4-liter dual overhead cam Inline-four in 2010. The $370 million investment will include a 552,000 square foot facility, machinery and tooling to build the new engines.

The plant will build two 1.4-liter inline-fours: a 140-horsepower turbocharged motor to be used in the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze, and a naturally-aspirated version to be used with the 2010 Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric vehicle.

Both engines will feature variable valve timing for both the intake and exhaust cams. Both engines will also use a molded resin intake manifold to save weight.

Final horsepower figures have not been released for the naturally aspirated motor.

The new engines are part of a global engine family dating back to 1997, debuting as a 1.6-liter inline-four for the Opel & Vauxhall Corsa.

Speaking with Automotive News, Tom Stephens, GM Powertrain Group vice president, said production would start at 800 engines per day. Stevens didn't say how production would be split between the two motors.

Today's news comes as a watershed moment for Flint as well. In 1984, General Motors CEO Roger Smith closed the automaker's largest plant in Flint, a town that once was a symbol of GM's manufacturing might.

The plant closure eliminated 300,000 jobs and sent the town of Flint — which grew up around the plant — into severe decline, as later documented in the 1989 film "Roger and Me."

Speaking of the company's return to its roots in Flint, Wagoner said that "GM, the UAW and the city of Flint have had a long-standing relationship. We are confident that Flint is exactly the right place to build our all-new powertrain plant."

[AN, GM]

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