GM touts claimed efficiency of new-generation Ecotec small engines

Sections: Fuel Economy

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New 2015 GM Ecotec engines press photo

New-generation General Motors Ecotec three- and four-cylinder engines are posed together. From left are the 1.4-liter turbocharged four cylinder, the 1.5-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder, and the 1.0-liter three-cylinder. (Photo courtesy General Motors)

General Motors is getting ready to release a new generation of Ecotec small engines and, predictably, is crowing about their higher efficiency than previous generations of the Ecotec engine family.

The press release from GM said the new Ecotec generation will comprise 11 engines ranging in displacement from 1.0 to 1.5 liters and having either three or four cylinders. Power ratings reportedly will range from 75 to 165 horsepower and torque ratings ranging from 70 to 184 ft-lbs. Finally, GM says the engines will be designed to support hybrid propulsion systems and alternative fuels from the get-go.

The General expects to build more than 2.5 million of the engines annually in at least five manufacturing locations worldwide, including facilities in Toluca, Mexico; Shenyang, China; Szentgotthard, Hungary; Changwon, South Korea; and — most relevant for U.S. consumers — Flint, Michigan.

GM Vice President of Global Powertrain Engineering Steve Kiefer said, “Transportation solutions vary around the world and GM is committed to developing engines matched to the needs of the regions where they’re sold. The new engine family is designed to achieve segment-leading refinement and efficiency, and will make its way into five GM brands and 27 models by the 2017 model year.”

Early applications of the new family of Ecotec engines will include the European market Opel Adam, which will get a 1.0-liter turbocharged three-cylinder that is reportedly 20% more efficient than the 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine it replaces while making just as much power as the larger powerplant. Another early application of the new Ecotec engines will be in the 2015 Chinese market Chevrolet Cruze, which will get 1.4-liter turbocharged and 1.5-liter naturally aspirated four-cylinder variants expected to be 5% more efficient than the previous engines offered in the Cruze in China.

Like the Ecotec 3 V6 and V8 engines, the new Ecotec three- and four-cylinder engines are what GM called “clean sheet” designs. From the release:

The new Ecotec engines represent a clean-sheet design and engineering process, leveraging the diverse experience of GM’s global resources. Technologies such as central direct fuel injection, continuously variable valve timing, turbocharging and variable intake manifold airflow help achieve efficiency goals with broad power bands, for an optimal balance of strong performance and lower fuel consumption.

“The new Ecotec architecture represents the most advanced and efficient family of small-car gas engines in GM’s history,” said Tom Sutter, global chief engineer. “Along with performance and efficiency targets, we’ve also aimed for segment-leading refinement with low noise and vibration – and we’ve hit the bulls-eye.”

Modularity in parts – such as four-cylinder and three-cylinder blocks – that share bore spacing, bore diameter, liners and other dimensions, reduces complexity while increasing the flexibility to quickly adapt the architecture for new applications.

The new Ecotec engines are calibrated to run on regular unleaded gas – even the high-output turbo variants.

The new 1.4L turbo for the 2015 next-generation Chevrolet Cruze in China is estimated at 148 horsepower (110 kW) and 173 lb-ft of torque (235 Nm). The 1.5L is rated at an estimated 113 horsepower (84 kW) and 108 lb-ft of torque (146 Nm).

In China, Cruze models with the 1.4L turbo engine will also feature an all-new dual-clutch gearbox.

When, exactly, we might see one of the new Ecotec small engines was not laid out in the press release. It would be highly interesting to see a three-cylinder, 1.0-liter engine from Chevy to compete with Ford’s 1.0-liter, three-cylinder EcoBoost engine we keep hearing so much about — yet not seeing much evidence of — in the near future.

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  • MJ

    Too bad they moved the water pump outside. One thing about the older Ecos that was nice was the fact you could still drive if the accessory belt failed since the oil and water pumps ran off a chain. Still like the refinement that’s resulted in all the years from the original L61 though.