GM to Invest $893 Million in Next-Generation V8s
By Chris Haak
To steal from Mark Twain, rumors of the V8’s death have been greatly exaggerated. We reported in January on the end of big block V8 production at GM’s Tonawanda, New York plant, which meant that another 108 employees on the L18 big block line landed in GM’s layoff pool, joining some 162 others on layoff there. But after that bad news for V8s and Tonawanda, news came today that the facility would receive a $400 million investment to produce GM’s next-generation V8 engines. The investment will create or preserve more than 710 jobs – meaning that the company will either have to hire new workers to fill all of the spots or will have to draw from its pool of laid-off employees from elsewhere in the country.
It’s not just Tonawanda getting good news from GM today, though. St. Catharines is getting a $235 million investment and about 400 jobs; Defiance is getting $115 million and up to 189 jobs; Bedford is receiving an investment of $111 million and roughly 245 jobs; Bay City is getting investment worth $32 million that should yiedl more than 80 jobs. GM did not confirm the timing of the investments or the hiring, nor did it get specific about which vehicles the new engines would find these engines under their hoods.
However, GM did mention that the next-generation engines would utilize direct injection and a new combustion system, would be constructed solely of aluminum (versus some cast iron construction in the current generation), and that all would be capable of running on E85. The benefits of direct injection are improved fuel economy, performance, and emissions. We can also presume that combustion process changes would have similar benefits. GM, like other automakers, must quickly ramp up its fleetwide fuel economy from 27.3 miles per gallon for the 2011 model year to 35.5 miles per gallon in the 2016 model year, which is a 30 percent improvement in just five model years.
We’ll never again see V8s proliferate through the passenger car lineups of mainstream manufacturers, but it’s still somewhat reassuring to know that the next-generation small block V8s will still be purring under the hoods of many trucks of the future.