MUNICH, Germany -- General Motors is building its diesel expertise in Europe.
Within two years, General Motors Powertrain Europe will more than double its product engineering staff at its new headquarters in Turin, Italy.
The move comes less than a year after GM and Fiat dissolved a powertrain partnership - a joint venture that helped GM offer competitive diesel engines in Europe, where diesels power about 50 percent of the new cars sold.
"Our priority will be on diesel engine control and base diesel development," said Rita Forst, executive director of product engineering for GM Powertrain Europe. Forst was interviewed by Automotive News Europe, which, like Automotive News, is published by Crain Communications Inc.
Forst said her focus is to make sure GM meets the Euro 5 legislation for cleaner diesel engines, which is expected to take effect in 2010.
With even tougher Euro 6 emission rules expected by 2015, a lot of engineering is needed.
After hiring 100 engineers last year, Forst plans to add 100 engineers in Turin in each of the next two years.
GM Powertrain Europe was launched last May after GM's five-year alliance with Fiat Auto ended. GM chose to keep its European powertrain development center in Turin, where the GM-Fiat joint venture was based, and to add a dedicated engineering center.
The new headquarters opened last June. The center focuses on global diesel engines and control systems.
Forst said GM plans more than 50 powertrain launches in 2006.
European sales of diesel-powered cars are expected to peak at 60 to 65 percent penetration by 2009.
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