DETROIT -- The first Chevrolet Volts and Cruzes could be built with engines imported from one of General Motors European plants.
Financial problems forced GM to stop construction on a new engine plant in Flint, Mich., in December. The plant was slated to begin production in the fall of 2010 so that Chevrolet could launch the Volt plug-in hybrid and Cruze small car for the 2011 model year.
Today at the Detroit auto show, GM Powertrain Vice President Tom Stephens said construction at the Flint plant has not resumed and said we dont know yet when it will. But, Stephens said, that would not hold up the launch of the Volt and Cruze, which use four-cylinder engines based on motors already produced in Europe.
Stephens confirmed that if the Flint plant is not ready to crank out engines, GM will bring in engines from Europe so the Volt and Cruze roll out on time. Stephens said GM has been using its global powertrain plants to shift production based on demand.
Last summer, when gasoline topped $4 per gallon, GM imported some four-cylinder engines to help meet demand.
Said Stephens: If you look at General Motors and how we are organized with global powertrain, part of the strength is that you have the ability to turn valves on and off to shift production around. Weve done that with four-cylinder engines for a while because of the demand weve had.
Importing engines from Europe could cost GM because of the expense of building them overseas and shipping them to Michigan.
On other powertrain topics, Stephen said:
By 2011, about 21 percent of GMs engine output will be turbocharged four-cylinders. GM plans to replace some V-6 engines with direct-injected, turbocharged four-cylinders like the engines used in the Pontiac Solstice GXP, which makes 260 hp out of 2.0 liters.
The Cadillac SRX crossover, due this summer, will be available with a 2.8-liter, turbocharged V-6. It will be the first time Cadillac has used a turbocharger on a production vehicle. Several Cadillacs have used a supercharger, which is driven mechanically by the engine. A turbocharger is driven by exhaust gases.