With sales of more than 9 million vehicles globally every year, General Motors cannot use a one-size-fits-all strategy for the brand. Known for its Corvettes, big SUVs and small-block V-8s, according to Global Powertrain vice president, Steve Kiefer, the automaker is set to build a future global engine portfolio, mostly populated by small, high-torque 4-cyl. gasoline and diesel powerplants.
While the V-8s will not disappear anytime soon, they will be joined by a variety of hybrid-electric, battery-electric and fuel-cell vehicles and other fuel-saving technologies, some of them developed with collaborative partners. GM is now collaborating with its archrival Ford on a new generation of 9- and 10- speed transmissions for the Corvette.
It also has an agreement with Honda to co-develop fuel-cell EVs, even if GM has been road-testing for years now its own fleet of FCVs. The GM Powertrain Chief says that when a full-line automaker like GM sells more than 9 million vehicles around the world every year, a one-size-fits-all strategy won’t work. Like most big automakers, GM is trying to find a balance between performance, customer satisfaction and meeting global emissions rule.
Kiefer says that “Fuel-economy rules all around are getting tougher and are looking a little similar for, say, China and Europe in the 2019-2020 time frame.” He adds that “Being a full-line producer can be a bit of a curse sometimes. However, the companies that will succeed are those that can balance all these requirements but still provide a vehicle that delights the customer. And that of course is what we intend to do.”
GM’s strategy includes the launch of a new generation of Ecotec 1.0L to 1.5L engines, which will power 27 car models of five GM brands in 64 countries, by 2017 accounting for 2.5 million engines. Another part of General Motors’ strategy is targeting powertrains more specifically to its high-volume mainstream vehicles.
By Gabriela Florea