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GM Thai diesel

Family Thai: GM is expanding its Asian production base.

Four-pot diesels from Thailand for future GM models, including next Colorado

General Motors logo19 Aug 2008

GENERAL MOTORS has started building a new engine plant and commenced an upgrade of an existing vehicle assembly operation in Rayong, Thailand.

To take shape as a 14,492 square-metre facility, the $US445 million ($A512 million) engine plant will produce more than 100,000 engines per year when operations commence in 2010.

It is GM’s first four-cylinder diesel engine facility in South-East Asia, and will employ around 340 people.

Announced last week by GM chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner, the Rayong facility addition and retool also acts as a key player in the company’s engineering development of the next-generation Colorado, which will be built there.

Due early in the new decade, the new GM light truck will serve as the replacement for the just-released RC-series Colorado, which is itself a reskin of the 2002 Isuzu-built RA Rodeo.

However, a Holden spokesman denied that the Thai diesel would be earmarked for passenger cars like the VE Commodore, in the wake of recent comments by Holden chairman Mark Reuss that the upcoming 2.9-litre V6 diesel made in Korea may end up being too expensive for most Commodore buyers should it be offered.

Like the V6, the Thai engines are a co-development with Italian diesel specialists VM Motori, which GM acquired in 2007 as a 50 per cent equity stake to form a joint-venture with the Penske Corporation.

 center imageLeft: The recently-released RC-series Holden Colorado.

Initially available in 2.5- and 2.8-litre capacities, the engine will power a number of other future light commercial vehicles as well as SUVs derived from them, spread over a variety of brands in the GM network, including Holden and Chevrolet.

GM calls the upcoming facility “a state-of-the-art, highly flexible and people-focused production complex that incorporates GM's leading manufacturing strategies”. These include the production of a variety of alternative fuel engine derivatives, namely Compressed Natural Gas (CNG), cellulosic ethanol, bio-diesel and petrol.

Mr Wagoner described the Thai facility as “an example of how we are proactively pursuing two key aspects of GM's global strategy … the first (as) the accelerated application of alternative fuels and propulsion systems to reduce global dependency on fossil fuels. The second is growth in the emerging markets, including the ASEAN region, as a key factor in our continued global leadership.” The GM boss went on to dub diesel engines as “very important” in the corporation’s global advanced propulsion strategy, adding that his intention was to develop the world’s best engines.

The existing Rayong assembly plant located adjacent to the new engine plant was opened in 2000, employs more than 2000 people, and produces variations of the TK Barina, JF Viva, and CG Captiva.

GM currently sells over one million diesel engines annually, in 36 different vehicle lines, and in sizes ranging from the 1.3-litre four-cylinder unit in Europe’s Opel Agila and Corsa, to the 6.6-litre Duramax V8 powering a variety of US trucks and vans.

Read more:

First drive: Holden Rodeo enters Colorado country

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