By on March 21, 2014

Steve Kiefer

General Motors head of global powertrain and former Delphi senior vice president of powertrain systems Steve Kiefer aims to steer engine development toward a brighter future, one influenced by his love for diesels, quietness and refinement.

Automotive News reports Kiefer’s vision may have begun to come to fruition this week with the debut of the new Ecotec family of engines slated to power 25 percent of GM’s global lineup by 2017. The eleven engines are based on older-though-proven technology found in the cam chains, blocks and other components, resulting in a family with lower NVH than previous engines. The new Ecotec family is a reflection of Kiefer’s method of improving existing technology to accomplish what competing engines already do — such as Ford’s EcoBoost — for little cost in development and assembly.

Speaking of Ford, both the Blue Oval and the General are collaborating on a new generation of nine- and 10-speed transmissions for their respective pickups, with the latter expected to arrive in two years. Though no word has been said on whether GM will either use diesel power or smaller gasoline engines in their fullsize trucks, Kiefer’s experience on the supply side of the industry — especially in regards to knowing what the competition is doing to be green and efficient — could prove valuable in the long run.

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12 Comments on “Diesels, Refinement Key To Kiefer’s Vision Of Future GM Engine Development...”

  • avatar

    I was actually kinda enthused about the Cruz Diesel, complaints about shockingly poor-quality interiors be damned. Seven-Hundred-Plus mile range between fill-ups is nothing to sneeze at especially living out here in the sticks, would make an Ultimate ‘cheap and cheerful’ road-trip car.

    …if only they hadn’t deleted the spare tire in order to fit the emissions-compliance stuff, because obviously in a car that can travel over 700 miles on a single tank the last thing you’d ever contemplate is driving it out beyond the urban commute and past the convenient reach of Triple-A.

    • 0 avatar

      I think we all are overstating the importance of the spare tire really. In my 22 years of driving I had one flat tire. I drive an average of 15-16k per year and I’ve been all over the Eastern Seaboard including Canada. I used to live near construction areas at some point in my life, but never had a flat because of it. I had good tires, I had bald tires, I had mismatched tires. The lack of a spare tire is a lot more psychological than it is practical.

      • 0 avatar

        I agree that flat tires are becoming more rare events, but they still occur. I’ve had about five flats in four different vehicles in the past eight years. Usually it’s a screw discovered imbedded in the tire without any leakage, so I can just take the wheel off and run down to the local tire shop to get it plugged. My son had a flat in his car that instantly deflated and couldn’t be repaired, so having a spare was welcomed as it occurred at 2:00 AM one cold night as he was coming home from work.

        I drove an E90 328i for a couple of years and the run flat tires with no backup whatsoever bugged me. I bought a Slime repair kit which included an inflator in addition to the cans of Fix-a-flat and repair tools for some piece of mind. What really irked me was the lack of a jack, so I bought a used scissors jack on eBay and threw that in what used to be the spare tire well of the BMW. While I never used it, I was comforted knowing that I had at least some kind of backup option. I think more and more cars in the future will go with run-flats, so my emergency kit will easily transfer to cars that I own in the coming years.

        • 0 avatar

          I haven’t had a flat since I stopped buying VW products that were clad with ContiProContact tires. I have had good luck with the Continental ExtremeContact DW and DWS as well as Michelins. For some reason, the ProContact tires would get side bulges or would pop easily.

        • 0 avatar

          Pretty-much this. Until Run-Flats are universal there’s no substitute for the peace of mind of having a proper spare and a jack and lugwrench to make use of them.

          Unfortunately, those niceties add weight, which is ‘everything must go, gotta meet EPA’ these days.

          • 0 avatar

            I don’t think it’s the weight so much as the volume. As wheels and tires get taller, it’s hard to find the volume in the car for even a temporary spare. The Prius has small wheels and a temporary spare, while most sports cars make do with sealant and a compressor.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff Weimer

      I have a Cruze, and the interior is not “shockingly poor quality”. It’s at par or a bit above the competition.

  • avatar

    Back on topic (spare tires?), I cannot understand what this new guy Kiefer is on about. Here TTAC reports:

    ” The new Ecotec family is a reflection of Kiefer’s method of improving existing technology to accomplish what competing engines already do — such as Ford’s EcoBoost — for little cost in development and assembly.”

    At the Society of Automotive Engineers, we get this:

    ” The Modular Ecotec family is a clean-sheet design, with more than 300 engineers involved with its development, Sutter said. Pontiac, MI, and Russelsheim, Germany were the lead technical facilities for the base architecture, with GM Powertrain Shanghai, Bangalore, and Seoul contributing significant systems work including control software and the PFI systems development and integration. The turbocharger systems partner is Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI), and Continental led development of the fuel system.”

    Either it took just a few administrative pen strokes to make this new engine line as per Kiefer, or it was a balls to the wall effort by GM Powertrain.

    I tend to believe the SAE, not puff piece speeches made up to pull wool over the eyes of investors.

    • 0 avatar

      What I can’t understand is why these days old “news” stories need to be written by a lazy person who has no inkling of how this great industry works. I can read this crap a day earlier in AN. That SAE story is on Google for crying out loud. Thank you fro bringing it to our attention, I wish Cameron would have in the first place.

  • avatar

    top level engineers are undervalued in importance to the company. we all know of Red Ink Rick but how many remember Gerald Elson or Tom Stephens? these guys made it happen. Wagoner was a pinhead.

  • avatar

    It should also be mentioned that these small Ecotec engines were all developed in GM’s PATAC tech center in Shanghai.

  • avatar

    I’ve rented Cruzes. And I agree, the interiors are quite nice. Not 100% on par with class leader VW, but the differences are tiny and subtle.

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