By on June 29, 2012

GM’s Dan Akerson spoke to the Chicago Tribune’s editorial board on Thursday, and discussed both compressed natural gas capabilities, and the need to streamline powertrains in the post-bankruptcy era.

Akerson is looking to reduce the number of engines offered by 40 percent, telling the Tribune

“Now that we have gone from eight car brands before bankruptcy, we look to do the same with engines,” 

The issue of natural gas powerplants was also discussed briefly, with Akerson touting the low cost of natural gas and emerging technology to extract natural gas from shale rock formations. Akerson has previously said that dual-fuel CNG/gasoline engines are the way to go due to a lack of CNG infrastructure, but a national energy policy mandating “…a gas station that offers CNG every three or four blocks…” would help.

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32 Comments on “General Motors Looking To Cut Engine Lineup By 40 Percent, Add CNG Capability...”

  • avatar

    I can get them down to 4 plus the Isuzu Duramax.

    1. LS/LS CNG for everything 230 hp and up. Downspeed a 4.8 liter DI version of that engine for V6 and turbo-four replacement duty.
    2. 2.0 liter turbodiesel four.
    3. 1.4t as used in the Sonic, Cruze, Volt, etc.
    4. New 850cc three.

    All four will be very-high-volume engines.

    Displacements and power ratings with known gaps:

    A. 850 three, 55 hp
    B. 850 three, 70 hp
    C. 850 three turbo, 100 hp
    D. 1.4t four, 120 hp (Volt and other high-premium-on-BSFC apps)
    E. 2.0td, 150 hp
    F. 1.4t four, 150 hp
    (gap – no gasoline engine between 150 and 230 hp, no gasoline engine under 230 hp for a 3400+ lb car)
    G. 2.0td, 190 hp
    H. 4.8 LS CNG, 4000 RPM power peak, downsized accessories/FWD version, 230 hp.
    I. 4.8 LS CNG, 4000 RPM power peak, RWD version, 230 hp.
    I. 4.8 LS, 4000 RPM power peak, downsized accessories/FWD version, 250 hp.
    J. 4.8 LS, 6000 RPM power peak, 340 hp
    K. 5.5 LS CNG, 5500 RPM power peak, downsized accessories/FWD version, 350 hp.
    L. 5.5 LS CNG, 5500 RPM power peak, RWD version, 370 hp.
    M. 5.5 LS (truck), 6000 RPM power peak, RWD version, 400 hp.
    N. 5.5 LS (Corvette/Camaro/Caddy), 6500 RPM power peak, 450 hp.
    O. 6.5 LS (truck), 5500 RPM power peak, 450 hp.
    P. 6.5 LS (Corvette/Camaro/Caddy), 6500 RPM power peak, 550 hp.
    Q. 6.5 LS, forced induction, 700+ hp

    • 0 avatar

      All the listed V8 antics are to be ditched and replaced by versions of a forced induction/NA V6.

      250 HP V8 with 4k rpm peak power rev? LOL. Good luck lugging it around. It’s 2012, not early eighties.

      • 0 avatar

        The LS V8 is much smaller and lighter than an OHC V6. It burns the same amount of fuel without DI; possibly less with. Downspeeding will save still more fuel. There is no displacement limit on the road. Going from one to a V6 is a step backwards.

        The V8 allows GM a considerable power advantage at no cost in package size or fuel burn compared to anyone else whenever it’s used. Hammer that advantage home.

      • 0 avatar
        George B

        Toucan, engines that run on natural gas typically require larger displacement and higher compression ratio to achieve the same horsepower as their gasoline equivalent. However, relatively large displacement V8s are something that GM does well.

      • 0 avatar

        > The LS V8 is much smaller and lighter than an OHC V6.

        Then there’s something wrong with the V6. Healty companies make their smaller engines lighter.

        > It burns the same amount of fuel without DI; possibly less
        > The V8 allows GM a considerable power advantage at no cost in
        > package size or fuel burn compared to anyone else whenever
        > it’s used.

        Give me a break. 420HP midsize rear wheel drive HSV something (this Vauxhall VXR8 thing) does 320 g CO2/km. 520 HP, one size larger Audi S8 AWD does 230 g CO2. Mere 50% advantage, isn’t it? LS fuel “efficiency” is laughable when compared to anything other than ancient Chryslers and the likes.

        > engines that run on natural gas typically require larger
        > displacement and higher compression ratio to achieve the same
        > horsepower as their gasoline equivalent.

        This applies to obsolete engine designs. 150 HP 1.4 turbocharged natural gas 4 cylinder from VW retires such thinking.

        > However, relatively large displacement V8s are something that
        > GM does well.

        I’m not so sure.

      • 0 avatar


        My L76 power Pontiac G8 GT gets 17 city and 24 highway in real world driving with 394 crank HP and 422 pound feet of torque under my right foot. That’s darn close to V6 HP MPG in a 4000 pound sedan giving me anywhere from 70 to 130 more HP under my right foot.

        Track certified 0 to 60 time is 5.01 seconds, quarter-mile in 13.354 @ 105.585, top speed 165. The 6.0L L76 under the hood weighs less than the twin-turbo BMW 3.0L V6 and I have the slips to back up the fact that current gen 335i cannot run.

        Before you dismiss this as a straight line machine I’ve got .88 road holding and 60 to 0 in 109 feet.

        I don’t find 17/24 as “laughable” from any engine with this kind of output.

      • 0 avatar

        APaGttH, I’m not talking performance numbers or intentions. I understand the LS charm, especially because of its solid design and unique, vintage sound and power curve characteristics. Just don’t call it “efficient” and don’t list it as the engine of the future. At some point one has to move forward.

      • 0 avatar

        I just can’t fathom V8 for fuel economy. My C5 Corvette LS1 could see 35-36 mpg all highway cruise of about 1350 rpms. That was with a lean cruise ecu tune. My Saturn Sky with LE5 2.4 and aftermarket turbo can see 42-43 mpg with AC on and mid-40’s without and it has the aerodynamics of a brick(close to Scion Xb). That with rpms near 2,500. My 2.3 turboed Saabs see 40+ at around 2,000 rpms. Then the 650cc two cylinder see 68 mpg at 5,500 rpms.

        Is there more surface tension and reciprocating mass with the bigger displacement?

      • 0 avatar

        @ APaGttH

        I can knock down 17/25 with my supercharged 5.4 V8 rated at 590 HP/550 FT.LBS at the crank with a weight of 4200 lbs on the road and knock down low 12s with a top speed of 190 (gearing limited) with a tractor trailer like .38 cd and pull a bit over .9 in lateral acceleration .

        In the lowlands of the mid-atlantic at least.

      • 0 avatar

        “Just don’t call it “efficient” and don’t list it as the engine of the future. At some point one has to move forward.”

        You may have a point on efficiency, but I have to disagree about moving forward. Speaking as an engineer if something works reasonably well, I see no point to change if it accomplishes its mission and from the business side retains profitability. Mainframe computers, coal fired power plants and now dated nuclear power technology all speak to this end. Ideas like “moving forward” and “change” have brought us failed green technology such as bankrupt wind farms, Toyonda beigemobiles, and the current administration, none of which are very appealing.

    • 0 avatar

      Looks like a humongous gap between the 1.4T gas engine and the v8 gas engine. GM’s small diesel engines are an unknown quantity. We have no idea how good the 2.0td is.

      • 0 avatar

        Yes. The backup plan for trouble with production capacity/consumer acceptance for the 2.0TD is continuing production of the 2.5 liter / 200 hp Ecotec.

  • avatar

    I would agree on both counts. GM has way too many engines and, if the governments wants to do something useful, it should be easing the transition to CNG by helping with CNG fueling infrastructure.

    • 0 avatar

      carguy: The current administration will never encourage CNG infrastructure because when CNG is burned in a car’s combustion chamber the carbon atoms of the gas combine with two oxygen atoms to create that satanic gas called CARBON DIOXIDE. Oh perish the thought!

      Instead we’ll probably get incentives to put windmills on the roofs of our itty-bitty electric cars.

      • 0 avatar

        Wrong. The current administration is in fact encouraging CNG infrastructure:

        “The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (PL 111-5) increased the value of the credit for property placed in service during 2009 and 2010. The credit value for these years is $50,000 or 50 percent (whichever is smaller) of the cost for business property and $2,000 or 50% of the cost (whichever is smaller) for a home refueling appliances. The credit was set to expire on 12/31/2010 but was extended by Congress in December of 2010. The extension was included in the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010 (PL 111-312). PL 111-312 extends the credit for an additional year at 30% or $30,000 ($1,000 for home refueling). That law also includes an incentive allowing companies to expense 100% of the cost of new capital acquisitions in 2011. The bonus depreciation provision also extends to capital equipment placed in service after September 8, 2010. For 2012, bonus depreciation is worth 50% of the cost of property placed in service.”

  • avatar

    A step in the right direction. GM has been doing better about reusing engines, but still has a way to go. Look at what the competition is doing and this is a no brainer.

    But this is only half of it. VW/Audi with its kit cars are going to eat everyone’s lunch in profitability soon.

  • avatar
    dash riprock

    GM puzzles me as an investor. They really seem to be making some logical decisions(reducing platforms and engines) and real head scratchers(peugeot). It was a lot easier in the past decade when all you had to do was short their(and Ford’s) stock.

  • avatar

    Nissan gets away with having only like what? 3 engines? Their excellent V6 (in various tunes) is used in so many applications I’ve lost track.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes – my plan uses the LS V8 basically whereever Nissan would use a VQ V6.

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        I think the pumping and friction losses of a low-powered and large displacement engine like you plan pretty much kill it when it comes to fuel economy. I admit (having grown up in the era of “loping” V-8s) that they drive nicely when hooked up to a good multispeed torque converter automatic.

        Like some other guys, I see the simplification going in the direction of V-6s of less than 3.5 liters displacement, with various degrees of forced induction as necessary, a 2-liter 4 with the same forced induction applications, and a 1.2 or 1.4 liter 4, again with the same forced induction applications (or not). I don’t think GM is going to build a car that is light enough to feel comfortable driving with a smaller than 1.4 liter engine.

        I’ve left diesels out of the mix. Diesel oil as about 10% more expensive than regular gasoline in most places (in some places, it’s more expensive than premium), halving the typical 20 percent fuel economy gain over gasoline. Diesel engines are still dirty, and the durability of the new CR fueled/particulate filtered diesels remains to be seen . . . and there is a significant price premium.

        The jury is also out on the durability of GDI, both respect to the longevity of the HPFP, the longevity of the injectors themselves and the intake valve crud problem.

  • avatar

    A company could really carve a lasting niche if they were known as the place to go if you want CNG vehicles.

    Right now, it doesn’t seem like much incentive, but as the global economy heals over the coming years, $5 a gallon gas is right around the corner in the US.

    Imagine a car company making big trucks and SUVs, and you’re only paying $2 a “gallon” to drive them.

    • 0 avatar
      Chicago Dude

      The gas station down the street from me has a couple CNG pumps to serve the taxi market. 80% of the cars you see at those pumps are Fords. You’ll see a few converted Impalas once in a while, and there is that super rare Civic CNG that I’ve seen once or twice. Honda was stupid to keep that California-only when the midwest has the most extensive CNG fueling infrastructure (anemic as it is).

    • 0 avatar

      CNG works best in large, fleet vehicles like buses, mail trucks, delivery vans, garbage trucks, etc. Car makers sell products to more than just the ave-joe consumer.

      Big vehicles aren’t hampered with the space requiremnt of CNG like small cars are, and going the fleet route means many vehicles are conveniently fueled with minimal new infrastructure.

      I see that market being the spring board to wider public acceptance and use of CNG.

  • avatar

    One big hurdle is the cost of the CNG tanks. A large composite CNG tank could cost several thousand dollars. In other words, more than a hybrid car’s battery.

    If GM could bring that cost down CNG would be very competitive.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    GM’s engine bloat now is nothing compared to what it was around, say, 2004 or so. Still, let’s have a little thought exercise for the gasoline side…

    One 5.7L OHV V8, DI, cam phasing, cylinder deactivation, three trims: iron block tuned for fuel economy and torque; aluminum block tuned for horsepower, and aluminum block supercharged for performance-trim applications.

    One 3.6L OHC V6, DI, dual cam phasing, three trims: one low output for midsize trucks, one high output for premium cars and SUVs, and one turbocharged for performance vehicles and an alternative for large trucks.

    One 2.0L OHC I4, DI, etc.: n/a and turbocharged for midsize cars, trucks, and SUVs

    One 1.3L OHC I4, DI, etc.: n/a and turbocharged for sub- and compact cars and SUVs

  • avatar
    Ron B.

    Dont worry about GM, the Labor government in Australia is pumping money into it’s Holden subsidary every year to keep the votes of a few hundred workers there.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    CNG makes sense and if their is money to made someone brighter than me will figure it out. What if the President signed an Executive Order stating all GSA (government) vehicles had to be CNG vehicles? Imagine a fuel that’s imported from the wilds of American oilfields and shipped by pipeline.Furthermore, why not solar panels on the roofs of all the butt-ugly government buildings?
    Rant on: No one energy source is a silver bullet to solve our energy problems nor is one specific energy use a silver bullet either. Have hybrid? Does your juice come from a coal-fired plant? Yeah, like that’s good for the environment. If GM gave all the environmental groups CNG vehicles; would CNG vehicles become the new hot thing with hipster d-bags? Rant Off.
    I do appreciate the honest efforts being made at alternative energy vehicles. Ya gotta start some where.
    Propeller beanie back on.

  • avatar

    Gasoline engines —

    1.0 4 new engine in development (allegedly)
    1.4 4
    2.0 4
    2.2 4 –> KILL (if not already dead)
    2.4 4 –> KILL (being replaced)
    2.5 4 new engine just coming out
    2.8 6 –> KILL (yes, the ancient boat anchor 2.8L V6 is still in use in China)
    3.4 6 –> KILL (if still in use somewhere in the world)
    3.5 6 –> KILL (being used in China)
    3.6 6 –>
    3.8 6 –> KILL (if still in use somewhere in the world)
    3.9 6 –> KILL (being used in China)
    5.3 8 –> KILL (if the next item below is true)
    5.3 8 LS4 –> KILL
    5.5 8 –> New small displacement V8 supposed to be in development for Corvette, would replace the 5.3
    6.0 8 –> if the above is true, KILL
    6.2 8 –> Slated for execution but necessary for the next 3 to 5 years
    7.0 8 –> Limited production performance engine
    8.1 8 –> KILL (if still in use somewhere in the world)

  • avatar

    I’m glad to see GM cutting its engine line-up.

    My personal favorites for the North American market would be a magnificent 350 cubic inch (5.7-liter) all-aluminum, 32-valve, DOHC, V8 with VVT for half-ton trucks. GM can use the old dinosaur push-rods for the 3/4-ton and up. The Tundra 5.7 comes to mind.

    An all-aluminum, DOHC, 24-valve V6 with VVT for the sedan, SUV/CUV and light-duty pickup truck lines with a turbo-charged variant available for premium applications. The new Pentastar V6 and the Ford Eco-Boost come to mind.

    Four cylinder engines should come in 2.4L and 1.6L and be all-aluminum, 16-valve, DOHC with VVT like those from Toyota and Honda, but a blown variant should be available for premium applications.

    The debate about timing belts vs timing chains can be settled by using a self-lubricating shielded timing chain with metal sprockets all around.

    Keeping engine choices to a minimum will reduce costs for GM and provide the buyers with better, more powerful modern engines.

  • avatar

    Not to slag GM, but I bet they don’t do it. I can’t remember the last time GM successfully implemented anything. The Buick V6 maybe? They always seem to make their decisions in a vacuum. What do they make that’s aspirational? I can’t think of a single vehicle I would risk my money on. The latest Cruze debacle is just more fuel on the funeral pyre that is General Motors Corporation. GM, I am very, very disappointed.

  • avatar

    GM has a powertrain plant in Canada. GM will be in talks with the CAW this summer. General Motors has already announced the closing of one plant in Oshawa. Governments may have an interest in these talks, (proportional production post bail-out).

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