More Chinese know-how in small GM cars


General Motors (GM) and Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) have been partners for many years, and together, they’ve already built several millions cars in China. They share R&D facilities in the Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center (PATAC), and they’ve just announced their most important project so far: a brand new engine and transmission.

It will be a very small engine, 1.0 liters to 1.5 liters. But with the best technology available, that is direct fuel injection, and turbocharging. A brand new transmission will be developed together (pictured above), for front drive applications. Interestingly, a first for GM and also for a Chinese manufacturer, it will be a dual-clutch automatic, as pioneered by Volkswagen with its DSG a few years ago.

These transmissions make faster shifts, and they’re more efficient that a conventional automatic with a torque converter. GM says the gain is 10 percent. With another 10 percent coming from the downsized engine, we may expect a 20 percent gain from this engine-transmission combination. Great news!

Behind that, we may also consider that Chinese engineering is growing. This engine and transmission will be developed at PATAC with assistance from Detroit, and it will be used in GM and SAIC cars worldwide.