• Sep 26th 2008 at 12:54PM
  • 16
GM's 2011 1.4L four cylinder turbo

In Flint, MI on Thursday, General Motors started to reveal some details of the 1.4L four cylinder that will serve duty in two of GM's most important new cars come 2010. This engine may be new to the U.S. market but it isn't an entirely new engine. It's actually the latest evolution of GM's Family 0 engine lineup that originally debuted in 1997. Currently GM has three different four cylinder engine designs that are used in a variety of vehicles around the world.

The smallest is the Family 0 which includes four-cylinder models of 1.2L and 1.4L capacities as well as a 1.0L three cylinder. Currently the Family 0 engines are used in overseas models like the Opel Corsa and Astra. The mid-sized Family 1 includes 1.6 and 1.8L models that are used in cars such as the Chevy Aveo and Saturn/Opel Astra. The largest Family 2 engines range from 2.0 to 2.4L and include the EcoTec engines used in a variety of North American and European models like the Cobalt, HHR and others.

Come 2010, an updated version of the Family 0 1.4L will make its North American debut in the Chevy Cruze and Volt and you can read about it after the jump.

[Source: General Motors]

In recent months we had been hearing that GM's new compact car to replace the Cobalt - which we now know as the Cruze - would get a new 1.4L turbo four cylinder engine. The assumption was that the engine would get direct fuel injection like the 2.0L turbo used in the Pontiac Solstice GXP, Cobalt SS and others.

Unfortunately we found out that GM has opted to stay with the less expensive sequential port fuel injection system for now. Chris Meagher, Chief Engineer for GM's Family 2 engines explained that the engineers met the fuel economy targets for the engine without using DI.

Meagher however didn't rule out the addition of DI in future years as fuel efficiency requirements get tighter and the cost comes down. In fact, as GM moves toward implementing HCCI engines down the road, more engines will get central direct injection as an enabling technology.

The 1.4L engine will initially be available in two flavors here in North America. As we learned back in July from Larry Nitz, a normally aspirated version will be used as the range extender for Volt. That variant will have an output of about 100 hp. The Cruze gets the turbo for an estimated 140 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque.

The turbocharger has been integrated with the exhaust manifold keeping the exhaust gas flow distance to the turbine short. This will help provide quick boost pressure build in response to driver demand. The combination will result in the feel of a larger displacement engine when needed while providing the light load efficiency of the small displacement base engine. The integrated installation also provides for more compact packaging, an important element in a small car.

The port injection system has been designed to accommodate ethanol capability and the normally aspirated edition for the Volt will have flex-fuel capability. Meagher wasn't able to tell us whether the turbo engine for the Cruze would be flex-fuel capable at launch in spring 2010.

The base engine consists of a cast iron cylinder block and an aluminum cylinder head. The engineers have designed the block with a hollow frame to keep the weight down while maintaining strength. Meagher couldn't give an estimate of the weight difference compared to an aluminum block because the Family 0 engines have never been done with an aluminum block architecture. The head contains dual camshafts both of which are hollow for reduced weight. The cams are driven by a chain to ensure long life and durability. Each of the cam shafts also has an independent variable phasing mechanism.

In addition to these macro-level design decisions, the GM powertrain engineers have put significant effort into the detail design elements needed to optimize efficiency and reduce parasitic losses. For example, GM has added a flow control oil pump. The pump has a variable displacement that's mechanically controlled based on the flow demand of the engine. A high pressure accumulator in the pump provides the oil to the engine and as the accumulator is depleted the pump displacement is increased. The result is that the mechanical draw on the engine is reduced under light load conditions.

The engine also has an electronically-controlled thermostat to regulate the temperature of the coolant. This can help warm up the engine faster and keep it at the optimum temperature for different load conditions. The 1.4L engines also get roller cam followers to help reduce frictional losses.

At this point GM won't provide any hard fuel efficiency numbers. However, last week at the reveal of the Cruze, Chevrolet General Manager Ed Peper implied that the Cruze should get in the vicinity of 40 mpg with the 1.4L turbo and the new 6-speed automatic that is coming up. GM will start construction of the new factory in the next few weeks with production due to start in early 2010. The Cruze starts production in Lordstown, OH in April of 2010. The factory will have a capacity of 800 engines a day or about 200,000 units a year.

Four cylinder engines will account for about 21 percent of GM's North American sales volume this year and the company expects that number to climb to one-third of all sales in just three years. This new engine will be a big part of making that happen. The turbo four will go into at least two other applications in 2010 with at least one of those likely to be the next-generation Astra which shares the Delta compact platform with the Cruze and Volt.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      Here I was looking forward to Ford starting to release some of their offerings that have been restricted to Europe. Perhaps even keeping the styling. Instead we this. While it should be cheap (the bottom line for most Americans) it is not a step towards the future, but a backpedal.

      VW on the other hand is making amazing engines. Their TSI and TFSI are engines are really progressive. They seem to be the only company that is really advancing gasoline tech. They have the formula correct with their TDI, so along they move.

      I want to start seeing some real innovations in the coming years. Automakers need to start getting some radical new ways at looking at automobile design. Innovation is what we need.
        • 8 Months Ago
        The TDI is nice, but VW's turbo gasoline engines are a joke. The GTI's engine doesn't compare with GM's LNF
      • 7 Years Ago
      ICEs are so last centruy. 1.4L is a start, but why not get rid of the engine entirely?... along with the transmission, exhaust system, alternator, starter, fuel pump, oil pump, gas tank, radiator, oil and air filter.

      Seems like you could produce an EV would be pretty darn much maintenance free for the first 10 years. Oh yea, I forgot about the need for planned obsolescence, sucks to be us.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Well yes, but do you want to pay an extra 20 or 30 thousand dollars for the battery pack? You could make this car with this engine for under 20k. An electric car with the same capability might cost 3 times more. You can buy a lot of gas for 40 thousand dollars.
        • 8 Months Ago
        Billy, that's precisely why GM is also building the Cruze and Astra off the same platform. Until at least the middle of the decade if not longer, batteries will likely remain a much more expensive proposition than an ICE.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I don't see a bright future for GM, but the new engines may prove OK. It is true that, as Paul Westerberg states, "ICEs are so last century..." So are shoes, socks, etc. Paul's children, should they become engineers, will still be dealing with the internal combustion engine. It has advantages of its own, just as do the newer forms of propulsion power.
      • 7 Years Ago
      a 10-year-old base tech and iron block?

        • 8 Months Ago
        The weight savings of an aluminum block in a puny engine like this is negligible.

        I'd rather see GM use the money saved using cast iron and skipping direct injection to install a BAS hybrid system, which would save more gas and yield more low end torque.
      • 6 Years Ago
      GM is doing it right. These small displacement engines with turbo are the wave of the near future. They are almost as efficient as TDI diesels but cost a lot less and the fuel also costs a lot less. Even though they will run on regular, they perform better with more octane. I would like to see them all be flex fuel and I would like to see blending pumps become common so these engines can be fueled with E20 or E30. This gives a big octane boost at essentially no cost penalty and it creates a market for more ethanol or other biofuels which lowers our dependence on imported oil and lowers the carbon footprint.

      Electrics may be great in time, but only if batteries or super capacitors make it economically practical (don't hold your breath). Electrics and hybrids will probably be just town cars for a very long time. We will need good combustion driven road cars for a long time.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Where are all the guys yelling that there are not enough cars getting 0-60 times below 5 seconds? These gas guzzlers are going the way of the dinosaurs. But for those that can afford $2/stab at the gas pedal maybe it doesn't matter.
      • 7 Years Ago
      This may not be radical, but it will be effective.

      VW's advanced technology tends to lead to dreadful reliability and high repair costs.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Everyone (including myself) is second guessing GM. I think GM gets it. Since their survival is at stake, they have their best brains using everything they have to design the right cars for the market. The technology is changing so quickly and there is so much lag time from concept to production that this is not an easy task. We will continue to see improved products from GM, but the competition is fierce, they no longer have unlimited resources, and their survival is at stake.
      • 7 Years Ago
      This is the engine I'm really excited about. All of my driving is on the highway (I use a small motorcycle around town) so a hybrid wouldn't do much for me. A Cruze with the 1.4L turbo and the six-speed automatic should return gas mileage almost as good as the Volt the way I would be using it. Not everyone needs a hybrid and I could do without the added complexity.

      Now I'm just hoping I can get the Cruze with two doors. Maybe a Pontiac grille would help its looks a bit, too.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Don't turbo gasoline engines require premium fuel or E85?
        • 8 Months Ago
        Not necessarily. GM has designed this engine to run on regular gasoline
      • 7 Years Ago
      Oh, and by Ford I meant GM. Glad I caught that before anyone else did.
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