General Motors has confirmed that will double worldwide production of its small (1.0-1.4-liter) global four-cylinder engines during the next three years, and that roughly half of those new engines will be for the U.S. market. GM anticipates that virtually one third of its total North American engine volumes will be in-line 4 configurations by that time, and that 21 percent will be turbocharged -- seven times the current level of T-charged applications. A 1.4-liter naturally-aspirated version of this new high-tech four will function as the "range-extender" element in the 2011Chevy Volt while a 140-horsepower force-fed version with the same displacement will motivate the upcoming 2011 Chevy Cruze, as well as two other GM models in 2011. To meet the projected volume requirements for these engines, the automaker also announced that it will invest $370 million to build a new 554,000 sq.-ft. manufacturing facility in Flint, Michigan that is due to come online sometime in 2010. GM says this ultra-clean "flexible" facility will be landfill-free and earn Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification.
"Power-dense four-cylinders such as the 1.4L Turbo are an integral part of GM's portfolio of advanced propulsion technologies, including cam phasing, direct injection, Active Fuel Management, clean diesels, hybrids, flex-fuel vehicles, six-speed transmissions and electric propulsion," said Tom Stephens, executive vice president, GM Global Powertrain and Global Quality. Among the many slick design elements in all versions of this new family of fours are a low-mass cast-iron block, numerous low-mass internals, oil-cooled pistons, chain-driven dual overhead camshafts with valves actuated by low-friction roller finger followers and high-efficiency cooling systems. Perhaps the most important design feature is that GM predicts they'll also set the performance pace when it comes to EPA fuel economy, with highway numbers approaching 40 mpg.