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GM’s Latest Manufacturing Investment: $890-million


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Although we felt a bit of remiss that we didn’t report of the $890-million investment in improved powertrain manufacturing capability that General Motors announced yesterday, but then we figured that another way of looking at it is that in the context of some 20,075 days, we’re not all that tardy.

You see, GM announced that it is making the investment for the next-generation small block engine. The original small block, credited to chief engineer Ed Cole, who went on become president and COO of GM (1967-74), goes back 55 years. One of the goals that Cole set for the development team was to come up with a highly manufacturable V8. And they’ve been doing it ever since, having manufactured nearly 100-million small blocks. Now they’re on Gen IV, and the small block features active fuel management (which shuts off cylinders when not needed, thereby managing fuel use) and variable valve timing.

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So, as they’re working toward the next generation of small-block engines, they’re continuing down that 55-year road. In the words of Mark Reuss, president of GM North America, “These latest investments show our commitment to improving fuel economy for buyers of every GM car, truck and crossover and giving them the best possible driving and ownership experience.”

The corporation is investing $400-million in the Tonawanda, NY, and $235-million in the St. Catharines, Ontario, Powertrain plants where engines are manufactured. In addition to which, there is $115-million in the Defiance, OH, $111-million in the Bedford, IN, and $32-million in the Bay City, MI, Powertrain plants, where casting and component manufacturing take place.

The funds are being used for highly flexible machining and assembly equipment, as well as special tooling to boost production efficiency and quality. In the casting plants they’ll be expanding the semi-permanent mold and precision sand casting technologies that help assure the dimensional accuracy of the aluminum block engines.

So while we may be a little tardy, in the grand scheme of things, not too bad.

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