The past few months have seen Detroit automotive heavies, Ford (NYSE:F), General Motors Corporation (GM), and Chrysler, all announce plans to re-tool existing automobile factories to manufacture energy-efficient engines.
Furthermore, all three companies have added new powertrain designs into the mix. All of these recent moves are an effort to reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
At the heart of plans is big money, alliances, and new technology.
Here's a simplified break down of the developments:
Ford's Investments and New Engines:
Supported by U.S. Department of Energy's Advanced Technology Manufacturing Incentives Program [pdf], Ford has announced a US$155 million upgrade to Cleveland Engine plant No. 1. This includes a new 6-cylinder engine for the 2011 Mustang.
The latest investment brings Ford's total investment in powertrain engineering and facility upgrades in North America to US$1.8 billion for the 2011 vehicle launches alone, with more to come.
This year's revamped engines and transmissions are part of a five-year effort, which began in 2008, to overhaul all of Ford's powertrains.
GM's $494 Million Outlay to 3 Major Plants:
Tonawanda -- US$425 million site investment will add capacity for the next generation Ecotec engine at 370,000 per year and bring about 470 jobs to that community.
Defiance – US$59 million site investment will support precision sand cast block at a capacity of 188,000 annually and result in about 80 jobs to that community.
Bay City – US$10.5 million site investment will bring new product to the plant (Ecotec connecting rod) and will create about 15 jobs for that plant.
Focusing on state-of-the-art four-cylinder engines, GM Ecotecs rely on direct injection, variable valve timing, and turbocharging to draw more power out of a smaller engine. See the GM press release.
Chrysler's Revamped Powertrain Lineup
- Implementing new technology that will contribute to an overall fuel-efficiency improvement of more than 25% by 2014, Chrysler's five-year plan includes an alliance with Fiat.
- The overhaul will include adopting Fiat technology such as Multiair. Fiat will also add its direct-injection, turbocharging, and six-speed transmission systems to Chrysler's portfolio. Four-cylinder engine options are being expanded at Chrysler with the introduction of Fiat's 1.4-liter and 2.4-liter four-cylinder engines.
- As part of its five-year plan, the Chrysler Group is currently developing a hybrid version of its Ram 1500 pickup for 2010. The company also continues its plan with the DOE to build a small test fleet of plug-in hybrid Ram 1500s and minivans. See the Chrysler press release.
Now let's see if these companies can avoid massive recalls.
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