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GM’s Coyote hunter

Great eight: GM has announced production plans for a new Gen V direct-injection V8 to replace the Gen IV engine used in the current Holden Commodore.

GM's new high-tech direct-injection V8 set to supersede Gen IV used in Commodore

28 Apr 2010

GENERAL Motors has foreshadowed a new-generation direct-injection V8 that will take the fight up to Ford’s new 5.0-litre Coyote V8 that is expected to arrive in supercharged form in the Falcon XR8 from late this year.

Production plans for General Motors’ new, more fuel-efficient and cleaner Generation V V8 ‘family’ – to replace the current Gen IV pushrod V8 introduced in 6.0-litre form into Commodore in 2006 and upgraded with displacement on demand a little more than a year ago – were announced overnight by GM in the United States where the company said it would spend $US890 million ($A970m) tooling up for the new engine.

While the timing of the new engine remains secret, along with specific capacities, fuel consumption and power and torque figures, GM says the new small-block V8 will have “unprecedented fuel efficiency through direct injection and an all-new advanced combustion system design”.

“The new engine family will rely exclusively on aluminum engine blocks, which are lighter and contribute to the improved fuel efficiency,” GM said in a statement released in Detroit.

“In addition to being E85 ethanol capable, these engines are being designed with the capability to meet increasingly stringent criteria emissions standards expected throughout this decade.” Although Holden’s official line is that it has no plans to change the Gen IV V8 powertrain in the Commodore, insiders point to the company’s tradition of following GM advances, including displacement on demand and E85 ethanol capability.

13 center imageLeft: Ford's Coyote 5.0-litre V8. Below: The Holden Commodore direct-injection SIDI 3.0-litre V6.

The North American-made engine could be shipped to Australia to be bolted into Holden’s Commodore and Statesman/Caprice, as well as export models including the Chevrolet Caprice Police Pursuit Vehicle (PPV) for the US and the Chev Caprice and Lumina for the Middle East.

The Caprice PPV will need to have the latest engine when it comes on stream to bring it in line with other GM products offered in the US, and it seems logical for Holden to adopt it for Commodore and Statesman/Caprice at the same time.

The Gen V engine has been designed to help GM meet new, stricter fuel economy measures in the US, as well as tougher emissions rules around the world, including Australia.

Here, new Euro 4 emissions standards are set to kill Ford’s 5.4-litre Boss V8 in Australia when they come into force on July 1, with Ford looking to its new Coyote 5.0-litre V8 that made its debut in the latest Mustang to get back into the V8 game with its XR8 and Ford Performance Vehicles (FPV) range.

As GoAuto reported exclusively recently, Ford Australia has developed a supercharged version of the Coyote engine, developing 315kW at 6500rpm, for introduction into the Falcon XR8 to maintain a ‘bent eight’ presence against Holden’s Commodore SS and SS-V.

In FPV GT form, the engine is expected to pump out about 335kW and 600Nm of torque.

The 260kW/510Nm Gen IV Holden V8 is Euro 3 compliant, and can be modified to meet Euro 4 beyond the July deadline to continue production until the Gen V V8 arrives at some point in the future.

With fuel economy improvement being central to the new GM engine, it will be interesting to see if GM at last drops its time-honoured pushrod, two-valve design that has delivered legendary low-end grunt for decades or, like Ford, joins the modern world with an overhead cam, 32-valve layout.

GM dispensed with pushrods and rocker valves on its ‘High Feature’ Alloytec V6 that was introduced on the VZ Commodore in 2006. That engine was upgraded with direct-injection and other improvements in the Spark Injection Direct Injection (SIDI) VE Commodore last year.

That V6 is in for a further upgrade this year when Holden introduces an E85 ethanol-capable version of Commodore.

Official fuel test figures for Holden’s Gen IV V8 put its combined-cycle consumption at 12.6 litres per 100km, thanks to GM's ‘active fuel management’ displacement on demand system introduced early last year in line with Australian production of the ill-fated Pontiac G8 in Australia. That system improved consumption by 1.3L/100km over the first iteration of the Gen IV V8.

But the new GM V8 will have to herald even greater fuel savings, not just to meet new official targets but to match Ford’s Coyote V8, which is said to achieve 9.0L/100km in 2011 manual Mustang form.

There is every likelihood that, like Ford, GM will cut the capacity of its engine in its various interations to help it meet its environmental objectives, relying instead on high-tech solutions including direct-injection, which the Ford engine does not have.

Officially, Holden is keeping mum about plans for the new engine, as it needs to keep selling the Gen IV for some time.

Holden senior manager product communications Jonathan Rose told GoAuto in a statement: “There is no plan to change the Gen IV V8 powertrain in the current Commodore range.

“We continue to receive great feedback from our V8 customers about the performance of the engine.

“Since the introduction of active fuel management, the engine has been able to deliver the best of both worlds to performance enthusiasts – improved fuel efficiency with the power they want from a V8.”

However, GoAuto believes Holden is likely to take the new engine at the first available opportunity once it goes into production at two plants in North America – St Catherines in Canada and Tonawanda, New York State.

Those plants, and three of GM’s casting and component factories, will share the $890 million budgeted for new tooling and other improvements in readiness for the latest V8.

Announcing the plan, former GM Holden chairman and managing director Mark Reuss – now president of GM North America – said the project was part of GM’s investment in plants and jobs “and making progress toward our vision of designing, building and selling the world’s best vehicles”.

“These latest investments show our commitment to improving fuel economy for buyers of every GM car, truck and crossover and giving them the best possible driving and ownership experience,” he said.

It is unclear if a variant of the Gen V V8 will also replace the Chev Corvette-sourced 6.2-litre LS3 engine currently employed by Holden Special Vehicles.

This engine belts out up to 325kW in the HSV GTS, and is said to be already Euro 4 compliant.

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