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New GM four puts Holden's Family II in doubt

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New GM four puts Holden's Family II in doubt

Family fall-out: Next generation Barina could have a Chinese engine.

China deal could spell the end for local production


A NEW small-capacity four-cylinder engine family - under joint development at General Motors' South Korean subsidiary, GM Daewoo Auto and Technology (GMDAT), and the Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center in Shanghai (PATAC) - could be the final nail in the coffin for the production of GM Holden's lucrative Family II engine.

According to Automotive News, production of GM's new entry-level petrol engines, which will be manufactured in at least 1.4 and 1.6-litre guises, is expected to begin in 2009 at GM's Qingdao engine plant in the northeast China province of Shandong.

AN says the new engine family, which is based on a GM Daewoo engine (which itself was based on a Suzuki design) that is now being produced at Shanghai General Motors, GM's joint venture in China, could replace GM's 1.6-litre engine globally – as well as provide it with a much-needed smaller engine in the US.

GM Holden, the majority owner of GM Daewoo, currently produces Family II four-cylinder engines in displacements ranging from 1.6 to 2.4 litres, for countries including China, Thailand, Japan, Indonesia, South Africa and South Korea - which produces Holden's four-cylinder Barina and Viva models.

Outgoing Holden boss Denny Mooney is on record as saying the Family II engine plant was likely to cease production by 2010, and told GoAuto: "We haven't said anything officially, but I said all along by the end of this decade I would suspect that that plant could wind down...

"We don't have any definitive plan right now. As long as these export markets will have these engines, I'll build them," said Mr Mooney, who added that about 600 examples of the engine were currently being built per day – up from a low of 500 and down from a high of 700. More than three million examples have been built at Port Melbourne since 1981.

The Family II engine foundry poured a record 50,000 tonnes of metal in 2000, when Holden shipped 264,942 engines and earned total export revenue of $447 million for that year alone.

In 1.6-litre form it currently powers the Daewoo Kalos/Holden Barina, Daewoo Gentra and Chevrolet Aveo, while in 1.8-litre guise it's found in the Daewoo Lacetti/Viva and Chevrolet Nubira and Rezzo.

The 2.0-litre Family II engine can be found in the Chevrolet Optra/Evanda and Suzuki Reno/Forenza and, while Asian-market Isuzu Rodeos employ an SOHC 2.4-litre version, a DOHC iteration does overseas duty in the Chevrolet Captiva and Opel Antara.



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