Turin will host GM's diesel center
By Luca Ciferri
Automotive News / March 14, 2005
General Motors has decided to concentrate its global diesel engineering activities here despite its divorce from the Fiat Group, parent of Fiat Auto.
Under the terms that ended GM and Fiat's five-year alliance, the Fiat-GM Powertrain joint venture here will be dissolved. But GM will open a global diesel development center here employing about 150 people, mainly engineers.
In an internal memo, Tom Stephens, group vice president of GM Powertrain, said that several activities, including global diesel engine and control system work, will be carried out in Turin.
GM Powertrain officials met with Turin city officials on Feb. 23 so GM could outline its plans and discuss a possible site.
About one-third of the 1.55 billion euros (about $2 billion) that GM agreed to pay to Fiat is related to sharing diesel technology and joint ownership of an engine plant in Poland.
According to the deal, GM will:
Buy half of the former Fiat-GM Powertrain plant in Bielsko-Biala, Poland, which builds the 1.3-liter Multijet diesel engine. GM also will buy half of the intellectual property related to that engine.
Buy half of the intellectual property rights for the Fiat 1.9-liter JTD diesel engine, which GM Europe builds in Kaiserslautern, Germany, and Fiat builds in Pratola Serra, Italy. With new, tougher Euro 5 emission standards expected by 2010 and even stricter Euro 6 rules coming in 2015, carmakers need a lot of engineering help to reduce the amount of pollutants that engines produce. GM will create its diesel center in the area where the first direct-injection diesel passenger-car engine was designed for the Fiat Croma in 1986 and where common-rail, direct-injection diesel technology was created.
Since the introduction of common-rail diesel, the diesel share of new-car sales in Europe has grown from 24.8 percent in 1988 to 48.3 percent in 2004. Diesel engines are expected to be in half of all new cars sold in Europe this year.