As the world's leading provider of confidential insider information from 1979 to 2000, Auto Industry Newsletter has now re-emerged by popular request to provide chief executives with the insight necessary to meet today's challenges.
Editor: John Mortimer
Monday, 29 August 2016
GM’s Tonawanda awaits news affecting its future
General Motors’ Tonawanda
engine plant is expecting to hear some news that could affect its future.
just kind of waiting for all of the programs and everything that is going to be
announced to see what happens for us at Tonawanda,” plant manager Steve Finch recently
told The Buffalo News.
“What I tell employees all the time is, ‘Let’s
not give the corporation a reason to rethink the decisions that may be coming
our way. Let’s make sure our performance is as good as it possibly can be and
we’re at the right spot at the right time when those decisions and
announcements are made.’”
Tonawanda Engine sits across from the Niagara
River in Buffalo, New York state. It comprises three plants in Buffalo:GM
Powertrain Tonawanda Engine Plant #1 at
2995 River Road;GM Powertrain Tonawanda Engine Plant #5
240 Vulcan Road; and GM Powertrain Tonawanda Engine Plant #4
2390 Kenmore Avenue.
In 2010, GM awarded Tonawanda Engine two new
product lines: $425 million for the next Generation Ecotec 2-litre and 2.5-litre
engines, and $400 million for a new V8 small block engine. Including those 2010
announcements, GM has invested $2.6 billion into Tonawanda Engine over the past
Roll back the clock to 2007 when GM made that
famous announcement datelined TONAWANDA, NY. It stated: “General
Motors Corp. will introduce a new, state-of-the-art 4.5-litre V-8 Duramax
turbo-diesel that improves engine fuel efficiency by 25 per cent, reduces CO2
emissions by 13 per cent and cuts particulates and NOx emissions by at least 90
per cent for North American light duty trucks and the HUMMER H2 built after
GM went on to say: “The premium V-8 diesel is expected to deliver class-leading torque,
power and refinement while maintaining a significant fuel efficiency advantage
over comparable-output gasoline engines.”
dual-overhead cam, four-valve V-8 diesel engine will fit within the same space
of a small-block V-8 gasoline engine. This compact size is made possible by
using integral cylinder head exhaust manifolds, integral cam cover intake
manifolds and a narrow block.
"This new GM light duty
diesel is expected to become a favourite among customers who require excellent
towing ability and fuel efficiency," said Tom Stephens, group vice
president, GM Global Powertrain and Quality. "It will meet the stringent
2010 emissions standards, and it will be compliant in all 50 states, making it
one of the cleanest diesel vehicles ever produced."
Compacted graphite iron vee
GM added that the “Technical highlights of the engine include
aluminium cylinder heads with integrated manifolding; a variable-vane turbocharger
with intercooling; a compacted graphite iron (CGI) block for a stronger and
lighter engine base (compared to lower-strength aluminium or heavier grey cast
iron); and fracture-split main bearing caps and connecting rods for a precise
fit. An electronically controlled, ultra-high-pressure, common-rail fuel system
is used, which has the ability to inject fuel five times per combustion event
to control noise and emissions.”
Since those days of course
the world was hit by the financial crash of 2008. This impacted on North America’s
automotive scene and nothing more has heard about the ground-breaking 4.5-litre
But does Steve Finch know
Or is he trying to keep his ‘troops’ happy?
With many Americans buying pick-up trucks and
SUVs, Finch says that Tonawanda’s “production of a “Generation V” engine
supporting those vehicles is doing “really, really well.”
He declared that line is operating with three
shifts each weekday, plus two out of three shifts each Saturday. Production of
four-cylinder engines at the GM Tonawanda complex is on a two-shift,
“But it’s pretty steady,” Finch added.
“The way we measure how well we’re doing is
whether we’re working and producing a lot of volume, and by that measure right
now, we’re doing extremely well,” he told The
Buffalo News. “A lot of factors are coming in to make the auto industry
The Tonawanda plant expects to produce about
636,500 engines this year, roughly the same as last year. The total might end
GM’s Tonawanda is a cornerstone of the
region’s manufacturing sector, with nearly 1,700 hourly and salaried employees.
The engines the site’s workers produce are shipped to GM vehicle assembly
plants around North America.
Amid all the current activity, the Tonawanda
plant has its eye on attracting future work. A four-year national contract with
GM that UAW members approved last November pledged an unspecified amount of new
investment in the Tonawanda site.
Finch said: “No announcements involving GM
Tonawanda have been made yet.” But is something coming?