GM and Chinese Partner SAIC Will Co-Develop Small-Car Engines, Transmissions

Automobile Staff
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With burgeoning, emerging markets clamoring for small cars, General Motors has decided to stay ahead of the curve in developing efficient powertrains. To ease the financial strain of development, GM has increased its partnership with Chinese automaker SAIC Automotive to develop small-displacement engines, as well as transmissions, for upcoming application in small cars.

GM and SAIC, currently in their 13th year of partnership, will collaborate on small-displacement engines and transmissions for developing, as well as developed, markets. The turbocharged, direct-injection engines will range in displacement from 1.0 liter to 1.5 liters, and will be mated to dual-clutch transmissions. The powertrain will be front-wheel drive, which GM claims will offer a 10-percent improvement in fuel economy, and a 20-percent improvement in carbon dioxide emissions.

The powertrain will be developed in the U.S. and Asia, and will eventually be marketed in vehicles sold around the world.

"We're looking to leverage our resources," GM spokesperson Sharon Basel said. "There's a need for the technology in both [the Chinese and American] markets."

Basel hinted that the technology will come to market sooner, rather than later, closer to two years' time, rather than a decade. While co-development will occur in both the U.S. and in China, Basel stressed that "it's not mainly about the Chinese market."

The co-development partnership may also signal a closer working relationship between the two automakers, according to Automotive News. When GM eventually launches an initial public offering, it will allow China to take stake in the General. SAIC, however, remains mum.

"We cannot comment on whether we will participate in GM's IPO before we study the details of the IPO," SAIC chairman Hu Maoyuan said.

Is the partnership a sign that the two companies are moving closer together? Or, like other engine development partnerships, is the GM-SAIC project an exercise in saving costs? Let us know what you think in the comments section.

Source: General Motors, Automotive News (Subscription required)

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