General Motors will start building four-cylinder engines for the new Chevrolet Malibu at its plant in Spring Hill, Tennessee. The plant was originally opened in 1990 to build Saturn vehicles, but was temporarily dormant after the Saturn brand was killed.
The Spring Hill facility will build the 197-hp, 2.5-liter Ecotec inline-four engine that is used in the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu. In preparation for production of the new engine, GM was able to create about 450 new jobs at the factory. The automaker also installed a new concrete floor made from recycled road construction materials, as well as an energy-efficient lighting system that will save the plant $800,000 annually in electricity costs.
Chevrolet expects about 80 percent of buyers will choose the 2.5-liter engine in the 2013 Malibu. Coupled to six-speed automatic transmission, the four-cylinder is expected to return fuel economy of 22/34 mpg (city/highway).
Spring Hill has a long history. Saturn cars were built there from 1990 through March 2007. The factory subsequently built the Chevrolet Traverse crossover from September 2008 to November 2009. Since September 2009, the Spring Hill factory has built GM’s turbocharged 2.0-liter Ecotec inline-four engine and 2.4-liter Ecotec inline-four. In addition to use in domestic products, both of those engines have been exported around the world: the turbo 2.0-liter is used in the European Opel Insignia and Chinese Cadillac SLS, while the 2.4-liter mill has been exported to Mexico and Korea.
Spring Hill also stamps various metal body parts for GM vehicles, and molds fascias and door panels for the Chevrolet Traverse. Under its latest agreement with the United Auto Workers union, GM also will begin producing the Equinox crossover and Malibu sedan at the Spring Hill plant sometime in the future.