General Motors is investing around $400 million to retool its 75-year-old Tonawanda Engine Plant. The retooling will allow the Tonawanda site to build four versions of the Gen 5 Small Block engine– a 4.3L V-6, 5.3L V-8 and two variants of a 6.2L V-8. The site, at its fullest optimization, could produce over 1,000 engines a day. T
he all-new, Gen 5 Small Block engine family is bound to power nine GM models by 2015, with the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups, and the 2014 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray getting the first dig on the new powerplant. Steve Finch, plant manager at Tonawanda, remarked that the Gen 5 Small Block is a cornerstone of GM’s powertrain strategy, adding that its production in the site affirms the carmaker’s commitment to “one of the highest-skilled workforces in the industry.”
He said that GM has spent 40,000 hours and $1.8 million in training the site’s workforce to produce the engines with “uncompromising quality,” noting that the carmaker added “some of the most flexible equipment ever used in the industry” to make sure that market demand can be met. Bob Coleman, shop chairman of UAW Local 774, said that in 2012, the site has hired over 1,000 people, who were trained by a joint team in an intensive two-week orientation.
Coleman remarked that the Tonawanda site receiving almost $1 billion of new investment since 2010 is proof that “GM has the confidence in this workforce.” GM has created and has retained around 1,500 jobs at the Tonawanda Engine Plant since 2009.
“The Gen 5 Small Block engines are among the most advanced and high-tech in the world and Tonawanda is now one of the most technologically advanced manufacturing facilities to support them,” said Finch. “From the machining operations and the flexibility for building variants on the same line to state-of-the-art quality advances, Tonawanda’s manufacturing capabilities are second to none.” [source: GM]