Hard on the heels of its new Ecotec V-6 and V-8 engines, General Motors is set to roll out a new family of Ecotec small displacement 3- and 4-cylinder powerplants that will be offered in GM markets worldwide.

Three years in development, the new line will have displacements ranging from 1.0 to 1.5 liters, some naturally aspirated, some bi-fuel capable (CNG/LPG and gasoline), some with port fuel injection, most with direct injection, and most of them turbocharged.

Global Use Planned

In all, there will be 11 variants of the new engines, powering 27 different models across five different GM brands to be sold in 64 different countries. This does not include a hybrid version currently under development. Output ratings will range from 75 horsepower and 70 pound-feet of torque to 165 hp and 184 lb-ft, all on regular fuel according to GM.

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The first of the new engines to go on sale will be a 1.0-liter 3-cylinder, propelling the subcompact Adam Opel Rocks. Unveiled at the recent Geneva auto show, the new Opel is due to reach European showrooms this summer.

China will be the next target, where a redesigned Chevy Cruze is due to go on sale later this year with choices between two 4-cylinder Ecotec variants, a 1.4-liter turbo and a naturally aspirated 1.5-liter.

Chevy First US recipient

The Cruze will also be the first North American car to offer the new engines, but not until its next major makeover. GM refrained from specifying when that redesign will occur.

While the primary focus of the Ecotec development program was optimized efficiency and minimized NVH (noise, vibration, harshness), GM's powertrain engineers also sought component commonality to contain costs. Consequently, the engines share common cylinder bores (74 mm), regardless of displacement or cylinder count, and common bore spacing (81 mm). 

Other technical details of the all-aluminum engines include stiffened cylinder blocks, forged steel connecting rods, stiffened camshaft covers, and forged steel crankshafts in turbo versions.

The stiffer structure, one of several noise and vibration suppression measures, is also lighter. As an example, GM cites a 44-pound reduction for the 1.4-liter turbo in the Cruze versus the current version.

Integrated Start/Stop Feature

All engines will feature stop/start technology, according to GM. The company was not ready to announce how many of the engine variants will come to the U.S., and did not comment on transmissions other than to reveal that the Adam Opel will have a 6-speed manual while the Chinese Cruze will feature a new dual-clutch automatic.

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Production will take place at five different GM facilities around the globe: Flint, Michigan; Szentgotthard, Hungary; Toluca, Mexico; Changwon, South Korea; and Shenyang, China. The China plant is brand new. 

Annual Output Pegged at 2.5 Million

When all five factories are running at capacity, which will occur sometime in 2017, the five plants will be capable of producing 2.5 million engines annually-10,000 per day, according to GM.

According to Tom Sutter, Ecotec global chief engineer, the new line "represents the most advanced and efficient family of small-car gas engines in GM's history.

"Along with performance and efficiency targets, we've also aimed for segment leading refinement with low noise and vibration-and we've hit the bullseye."

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