By on June 6, 2011

In his Detroit News interview, GM CEO Dan Akerson revealed a minor mystery, which I present for your consideration and discussion:

In a recent meeting with engineers, for example, Akerson pressed them to explain the logic behind putting a big 6.2-liter engine in an unspecified car whose competitor has a 4.4-liter turbocharged engine. The engineers replied: “Well, we want to be able to beat the other guy.”

Akerson responded: “I don’t think the average buyer is going to buy an eight-cylinder, 530-horsepower (car).” His point: Decisions must be supported by a solid business case, and not just for bragging rights or as a marketing tool.

The Cadillac ATS-V seems like the most likely candidate, but then there’s also this to consider:

Akerson, who became CEO Sept. 1 and board chairman Jan. 1, already is weighing in on new vehicles. He recently greenlighted the next generation of the compact Chevrolet Cruze, but vetoed a new engine for a sports car set for production in 18 months.

The ATS is a sedan, not a sports car… so is this a different cancelation, or what? Over to you, B&B…

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69 Comments on “Stump The Best And Brightest: What Car Had Its 6.2 Liter V8 Pulled By Dan Akerson?...”


  • avatar
    Jellodyne

    Would that be the BMW TwinPower 4.4L turbo V8 in the 550i GT and the upcoming 650i?

    • 0 avatar
      flomulgator

      Parroting what a couple other’s said, I bet he’s referring to that motor, but it it’s very visible, current, X5M, X6M high COG prison. And then comparing that to some yet-unveiled Cadillac super SUV (“My Escalade did the Nürburgring in 8:00 flat!”). Look at the text: Detroit News says the word “sports car”, and only the second time (first it was “unspecified car”). Akerson never says sports car, so it could easily be a case of editorial wishful thinking. After all, despite my dislike for those things, even I can realize the market potential for dragstrip SUVs. But I have to agree with Akerson if it’s for an SUV. The mileage would be so terrible that it would show daft forward thinking.

      Fun sidenote: A little while ago I happened to inadvertently drive a X6M while doing a driveway shuffle at a party. Didn’t know what it was at the time. If someone had told me I was driving a 555hp V8 boosted to 18psi I would’ve laughed at them, because at low speed it responded like something beige. Supercar like rear visibility though!

  • avatar
    william442

    To paraphrase Stroker McGurk: There ain’t no substitute for horsepower.

  • avatar
    Steven02

    Maybe sports car means sports sedan? I am guessing CTS V.

  • avatar
    Sundowner

    see, I disagree. Halo cars are needed or the brand image suffers. People don’t buy a 328 becuase it’s insufferably poor build quality or it’s mediocre interior, they buy it becuase everyone knows BMW kicks A$$, dammit, and so do BMW drivers. They may be in a 328, but it’s got some M3 in it, and byjeezus, jsut being in that ca means that they can drive like an F1 star, slurp a latte, and text message in a refill on that prozac prescription, all at the same time.

    Seriously for what a halo car costs, vs the nonsense of GM trying to bugger every new caddy with the ability to be rigged with every possible drive train option, thereby rendering the platfrom hopelessly mediocre, what’s the real money drain here? Is it the v8, or is it old guys behind big desks that can’t let go of yesterday? Personally, I don’t think it’s the V8.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Even Studebaker understood that concept: Thus the Avanti, when the company was on the ropes and the Lark would have only been bought by people who would consider the Corolla too racy (OK, I’m mixing decades). Yeah, it failed. But at least Studebaker went out with a muffled boom, not just a deflating phlp.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      Agreed. So the GM mystery car won’t use the 6.2L V8, but what will it use instead? If it can’t beat the competition, the journalists will trash it as just another GM letdown. You never see this kind of criticism leveled at the CTS-v.

    • 0 avatar
      cfclark

      I agree with you (and disagree with Akerson). Of course the “average buyer” isn’t going to buy a 530-horsepower car. The V-series Cadillacs aren’t for the “average buyer”. But if you’re going to build all your cars for the “average buyer”, why have the V-series, or Cadillac at all?

      Back to mediocrity, and back to malaise.

  • avatar

    The 4.4 is in the 5, 6, and 7. So either the next CTS-V (or even the current one) or a planned larger luxury sedan.

    • 0 avatar
      talkstoanimals

      My thoughts exactly. However, the “sports car” reference makes me wonder if the 6.2 is out for the next Corvette, with the “competitor” reference relating to the new 6er. The ‘Vette and 6er are not direct competitors in my eyes, but maybe to the interviewer they are…

      • 0 avatar
        ciddyguy

        I was going to say, the Vette too if sports car was ACTUALLY what was meant but who knows.

        Perhaps he meant a sports sedan, such as the Cadillac CTS-V or a variant of it or something new in the Caddy line.

        I’m all for smaller engine that can mimic or surpass larger motors in performance, but on half the displacement and get much better mileage to boot.

      • 0 avatar

        Many people consider anything with a powerful engine to be a “sports car.” So it could easily have been the next-gen CTS-V.

  • avatar
    Matt Betts

    Perhaps they were going to use it in a new standard variant CTS since the 550 is a non-M BMW. The standard CTS has only had V6 engines to use while the V8 was always a V-exclusive. If they were trying to come up with a 550/E550 fighter, rather than a M5/E63 fighter, the standard LS3 (as used in the Camaro SS and G8 GXP) would be the logical (and cheap to develop/implement) GM counterpoint.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      The LSA is pretty much and LS3 with a supercharger based off of the LS9. I understand, I am oversimplifying it a bit, but I don’t think it would be that the development was that highly priced.

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        Steve is right on with this one. As in the past the LSX motors were not designed for premium market like Cadillac. Bit it sounds like the 4.4 TT will be also shared with the Corvette thus making CAFE standards in fuel economy along with performance.

    • 0 avatar
      bunkie

      At this point it must be mentioned that the Northstar is no more. I would love to replace my STS (Northstar) with a CTS-V but, frankly, with the miles I drive I can’t justify it. But even the DI 3.6 isn’t all that thrilling. There’s no middle ground. I would be happy to buy a CTS with an LS3 provided it wasn’t priced into the stratosphere.

  • avatar
    Apollo

    I’m curious if any of the engineers knew enough to point out to Ackerson that GM’s “big” 6.2 is no less efficient in its applications than BMW’s 4.4? If he’s talking about the S63 that goes into the X6M, X5M, and, soon enough, the M5, just because it’s “only” 4.4 liters doesn’t mean it’s efficient. The X6M gets 12/17. The lower performance version of BMW’s 4.4, the N63, gets 13/18 in the X6 xDrive50i. Compare that to an Escalade, which is a much heavier truck, which gets 13/20 (with AWD) using GM’s 6.2 LS2.

    The 6.2 LS3 was only applied in one American sedan, the G8 GXP, which got 13/20. The N63-equipped 550GT gets 15/22; that’s not a huge loss for the “big” 6.2, and one suspects aeorodynamic and gearing tweeks since 2009 would probably cover the difference. But in the Corvette it gets 16/26, which is dramatically better efficiency numbers than any of BMW’s performance cars have gotten since the E36 M3 went away over a decade ago.

    If he’s comparing the 6.2 LSA (13/19 in a CTS-V) to the S63 in an M5, we don’t know the M5’s EPA numbers, but I can’t think of any reason why they would be noteably better than a CTS-V’s. The last gen M5 (5.0 V10), got 11/17, so obviously fuel economy is not a priority for many M5 purchasers.

    • 0 avatar
      MikeAR

      The engineers know, they just want to heep their jobs until they get a better offer.

    • 0 avatar
      Apollo

      Ah, finally figured out the direct comparison: N63 powered 650i: 16/24 with automatic, 15/22 manual. LS2 powered Camaro: 16/25 with automatic, 16/24 with manual.

      Those cars have pretty much the same power, but the “big” 6.2 is more efficient. Moreover, considering the advantages in durability, maintenence, and driving feel of an NA engine over a turbo (and the fact that LS2 uses regular regular while the N63 needs premium), this seems like a win for the “big” engine all around.

      It seems to me a bad sign if GM’s incoming CEO can’t see the virtues in one of it’s biggest assets, the LS engines. It took Ford a very long time to come up with the Coyote; I doubt GM has anything like that up its sleeve in the immediate future.

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        This has to do with final drive ratio than displacement. You’d have to compare gear ratios to get a better picture for comparison. The gov mpg figures for LSX engines are with premium fuel as that is what is expected to be used in most GM V8’s with 10:1 compression or higher. Lessore grade fuels can be used but performance does suffer.

      • 0 avatar
        Apollo

        Final drive ratio on a Camaro SS is 3.45:1; 650i is 3.46:1 for the manual. For the automatic, it’s Camaro SS 3.27:1, 650i 3.08:1. So the Bimmer has a more efficient ratio in the automatic and a nearly identical in the manual. The Camaro wins in efficiency.

        And fueleconomy.gov shows regular gasoline for the LS3 (I said LS2 in prior post; sorry) applications (Camaro SS and Corvette). fueleconomy.gov does show premium for the LS7 (Z06), LS 9 (ZR1), and LSA (CTS-V). When I test drove a Camaro SS, the sticker showed it using regular.

      • 0 avatar

        Apollo,

        Axle ratios only tell half the story. BMW gearboxes use shorter gearing throughout compared….the CTS-V and ZR1 are great examples of this…they both have performance oriented 6th gears and get lousy mileage compared to the taller geared base Vette and Camaro…

  • avatar
    86er

    The 2014 Chevrolet Caprice SS?

    Yeah, I know…

    P.S. I thought Akerson said he knew nothing about the car industry?

  • avatar
    Lumbergh21

    “Akerson responded: “I don’t think the average buyer is going to buy an eight-cylinder, 530-horsepower (car).” His point: Decisions must be supported by a solid business case, and not just for bragging rights or as a marketing tool.”

    First, a sports car or luxury car are nto aimed at teh average car buyer. This seems like an obvious statement, but evidently not so obvious to Mr. Akerson.

    Second, since when is the marketing value of a feature not part of “a solid business case”?

  • avatar
    bodegabob

    The “sports car” quote needs to be disregarded due to the high number of journalists and editors who think that V4 engines are the wave of the future.

    I’m happy to hear that not much has changed at GM after all: It’s all top-down financial management wielded by guys who live inside spreadsheets and think they know the market.

    How many more times can they declare bankruptcy?

  • avatar
    cRacK hEaD aLLeY

    Americans: 50 years paying for horsepower but driving torque.

  • avatar
    Fromes

    I dont really understand the logic here. In which way is the 4.4 liter bmw engine better then GM’s 6.2, or for that matter vice-versa?

    • 0 avatar
      Jellodyne

      It’s possible that a 6.2L small block Chevy is likely smaller and lighter than the BMW 4.4 if you account for all the turbo plumbing and whatnot. On the other hand, it’s a push-rod Corvette motor — it’s going to give up some smoothness and refinement to one of the most technologically advanced engines on the market.

  • avatar
    dwford

    So Akerson has greenlit a 4.4L turbo motor for said unnamed car? Perhaps he doesn’t realize that the only reason GM is stuffing a 6.2L pushrod V8 into everything is because it can’t afford to develop different high power motors for each car.

  • avatar
    michaeljeep

    First off, which GM V8 is rated at 530hp? Is he mistakenly referring to the 430hp LS3 or is he referring to a to-be-announced detuned LSA? I doubt he’s talking about an LSA variant, since otherwise he would have referred to it as a ‘supercharged’ 6.2L vs a turbo 4.4L. In fact it seems highly dubious that he could be referring to a V-series caddy at all, considering that any rational person can deduce that OF COURSE a person by a V series cares about the size of the engine.

    Considering that the only vehicles that GM makes with 6.2L engines that have (semi) direct competitors in BMW vehicles with 4.4L V8s are the SUVs, I’m guessing he is wondering why the next Escalade / Yukon has to have a 6.2L. Perhaps they are planning on shrinking those down to compete more closely against the X5 / X6. I know the quote says “car” but many people call SUVs “cars”.

    And yes, I dont think the camaro / corvette directly compete with any BMW. I’m not saying this because I dont like them. Feel free to disagree.

    • 0 avatar
      toxicroach

      Eh I disagree. The Corvette probably realistically competes against the M series cars. It’s a pretty awesome sports car for as much (or can even look like the economy buy) against the high end beamers. For whatever its worth, the Camaro competes with the 3 series in the “I’m reasonably well off and want a fun car to drive but spending 40000 on a car makes me queasy” demographic, however large that market might be (I’m a member).

    • 0 avatar
      SVX pearlie

      Newsflash: Cap’n Dan ain’t a car guy. When talking about cars, and nuts and bolts things like engine tech, or different flavors of forced induction, he doesn’t know WTH he’s talking about.

  • avatar
    Zarba

    He’s talking about the ATS-V.

    He doesn’t have a clue, so he considers it a “sports car” because it’s got a hot motor.

    I hope someone points out that the LS-X engine family is very cost-effective, since the tooling is long since paid for, and they’re relatively simple and cheap to produce compared to a DOHC turbo V-8

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    I don’t want overgeneralize, but I think that decades of only building cars with strong “business cases” is largely what got GM into bankruptcy in the first place. Aiming for average but with longer product development cycle times than most Japanese competitors meant that GM was always a generation or two behind the then current “average.” This was the case throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

    GM’s product development org is probably a lot more speedy today, I’d hope, but it seems that their leadership is still stuck in 1983. Look, I have an MBA and I’ve worked for large corporations nearly all of my career, but even I know that if every product is designed based on customer focus group averages you’ll never come out with a breakout product. And GM badly needs to be better than average.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    So they install an i-banker with political connections as CEO, because the former CEO bailed in the middle of their IPO, and they are letting him make product decisions.

    DOOM!

  • avatar
    KitaIkki

    GM’s CEO hates its best engine.

    • 0 avatar
      Z71_Silvy

      Everybody hate’s their best engine…the V8….except maybe Chrysler. They have proven over and over they have a set of balls.

      Look at what Ford is doing to the V8 with their pathetic “Ecoboost” V6. It’s an all out assault.

    • 0 avatar
      aspade

      +10.

      GM doesn’t have cachet. GM doesn’t have reliability. GM doesn’t have resale. GM has the albatross of the bailout.

      If GM could build a car that matched the BMW in every place but the badge, which I don’t believe they can, it still wouldn’t sell. Why would you pay luxury car money for something with those connotations. And the Hertz connotation besides.

      When you’re playing from behind you can’t settle for matching. You take what you’re good at, you beat the hell out of the competition at it, and you build your comparison there. How many people would look twice at a CTS-V with a 360 horse V8. It’s good enough for a BMW 5 at the same price.

      But this is nothing new. The company with the best affordable V8s in the world didn’t have the sense to use them to sell cars 10 years ago before the green idiocy started. Think they’re going to do it today?

  • avatar
    DearS

    So the Engineers don’t have much say in the matter? Not like they say anything anyways with their “we wan’t to beat them” line. Why is the CEO questioning the engineering? What exactly is the question? What is the goal, The market, the target, the price?

    Is this about building a 5 series fighter out of the CTS? I don’t want to speculate to much, but that seems like what he is saying. The CTS-V vs. the 550i and E550. No need for 556hp vs those cars. Then again they don’t compete on engineering luxury, they just priced similarly.

    • 0 avatar
      Alex French

      I think this is the worst part:

      “I don’t think the average buyer is going to buy an eight-cylinder, 530-horsepower (car).” His point: Decisions must be supported by a solid business case, and not just for bragging rights or as a marketing tool.

      So… He can decide to change the brand on a whim, but if you disagree, *you* need a solid business case.

  • avatar
    AaronH

    I will wager an ounce of gold that GM’s 6.2 Liter gets better REAL WORLD fuel efficency than any 4.4 Liter turbo.

    Only fools think putting a turbo on an engine makes it get better fuel economy…The Honda odyssey gets better REAL WORLD mpg than the Chevy Cruze turbo.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Aaron, go back into the air conditioning and refresh. My GM 2.4 Ecotec is rated at 170HP/170 trq with 3.91 rear differential with aftermarket turbo doubling output went from a rated 28 mpg to around 40 mpg. My old 2000 C5 Corvette with modifications on intake and exhaust would only see 35 mpg on same daily driving work loop.

      Rpms on the 2.4 with 3.91 are around 2,500 compared to LS1 V8 of 1,350 rpms. Cars are within couple of hundred pounds but engine has over twice the rotating mass. My Suzuki SV650 with slightly less than 650cc purrs at 5,500 rpms and sess 68-72 mpg. =)

      You can come ouside again for fresh air.

  • avatar
    RGS920

    I am guessing it was a Buick.

  • avatar
    obruni

    could this be referring to Ford’s upcoming 4.4 liter turbo diesel?

    it could be that Dan vetoed two engines

  • avatar
    colin42

    It’s a alternative to that competition car the Pontiac Solstice, however what Dan failed to understand was that 4.4 ltrs referred to the truck volume not the engine displacement

  • avatar

    Yeah, the “average buyer” qualifier is what stood out to me.

    And average buyers likely aren’t interested in 6.2L 530hp offerings.

    Well, duh.

    As others have said…back to making dull, mediocre-mobiles, all barely “good enough”.

    As we’ve been challenged to / are needing to guess the context of these comments, we’re somewhat filling a vacuum. Still.

    Attn Mr. Clueless: perhaps equipping your competitive offering with a 6.2L V8 vs. the 4.4L of another’s might make it distinctive / different / or in accordance with its brand image? Offer an advantage vs. competitors?

    Attn engineering staff: clueless or not, Mr. Big controls the purse strings. Try to have several better answers when challenged like this; you’re capable of such, pocket protectors or no. You remind me of IT staff who push for new hardware / software for all the “cool” things it can do, and use that language. Um, no. No traction at all with these types.

  • avatar
    Omnifan

    The thing about business case analysis is that it has two parts: tangible benefits and intangible benefits. If the tangible part (dollars and cents) at least break even, then the intangible parts can put the program over the top and into production. The 6.2 engine could be a break even situation from a tangible standpoint, but the customer must perceive value of some intangible sort for it to make sense for production. Witness the Dodge Viper with the V10. Sharing the V10 with the truck line made it break even, it was the halo effect that made it reality.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    How about instead of having the biggest, baddest engine, just drop all this “liter” garbage and bring back “cubic inches”, as in 283, 327, 350, 396 and 427 cu. in? Then they will have the “biggest & baddest”! C’mon, you have to admit those numbers have a cachet about them and says more than anything metric! Crossed-flags, “V-8” and all the other classic emblems, anyone? Pushrod, indeed. I use both SAE & Metric systems quite comfortably, but as cars have an emotional angle to many, this may make sense.

  • avatar
    tikki50

    if Lt Dan screws witht he Corvette, he needs to go immediately. You dont mess with the vette its one of GM’s most known halo cars and when your talking a sports car, horsepower is needed to win, not compete.

    I have a clear understanding now, I dont think Dan knows how to “drive” a car. So he sees no reason to have a 6.2L engine. makes sense.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Akerson, who became CEO Sept. 1 and board chairman Jan. 1, already is weighing in on new vehicles. He recently greenlighted the next generation of the compact Chevrolet Cruze, but vetoed a new engine for a sports car set for production in 18 months.

    This might just mean that the Corvette, CTS and/or Camaro will carry over the existing engine rather than see a new one designed. Considering power is not really a problem for any of these, this is entirely reasonable.

  • avatar
    korvetkeith

    Once the engineers explained the cost differential, hopefully everything was OK again. Although, with implicit gov’t backing, maybe Dan doesn’t care about profitability any more.

  • avatar
    rpol35

    Cadillac made a 4.4 litre 469 HP, supercharged Northstar V8, so they’ve beeen there and done that.

    They don’t make it any longer, for whatever reason, and now they need a bigger engine to compete since they are using a two valve, pushrod architecture.

    As an aside, GM supposedly has a 3.0 litre OHC, supercharged, V8 coming for the C7 ‘Vette; maybe that will scratch the itch.

    Seems like a dumb question on Akerson’s part……….

  • avatar
    ajla

    Displacement is not the same thing as physical size or shipping weight or cylinder count.

  • avatar
    Speed_3

    So correct me if I’m wrong but we narrowed it down to basically the ATS-V, Corvette, or Camaro? Would a twin-turbo V6 ATS be that bad though? I’d need more info to know whether or not it was a good decision, sadly I don’t think we are going to get that.

  • avatar
    Adub

    Now I see other news sources quoting GM bigwigs as saying they want to go with a 3.0 turbo V8 to chase Porsche and Ferrari, as if the engine is the deciding factor for those buyers.

    Bah!

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