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"Buy American, Get Chinese Engine"; Media Discovers Chevy Equinox Powertrain Source

Link: http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080327/AUTO01/803270319/1148

The following article appeared first in The New York Times. The Detroit News picked it up for (I assume), the Chinese parts angle. For those of you not aware of the Chevy Equinox powertrain heritage, it's an interesting read.


Buy American, get Chinese engine: In global supply era, old way of thinking on parts has become quaint.
Ian Austen / New York Times / March 26, 2008

OSHAWA, Ontario -- General Motors car engines were once the stuff of American legend. The Beach Boys sang, "nothing can touch my 409," about a powerful Chevy V-8. Oldsmobile owners in 1981 were so angered that their cars had been fitted with Chevrolet engines instead of Oldsmobile "Rockets," the subject of another hit song, that they successfully sued GM over the swap.

The company has since eliminated brand distinctions between engines, saddling them with names unlikely to inspire songwriters, like Ecotec, Vortec and Northstar. But some owners of the Chevrolet Equinox, a "compact" sport utility vehicle built in North America, might be surprised to learn the origin of the engine under their hoods -- it's made in China.

Last year, China exported more than $12 billion in auto parts, up from less than $2 billion in 2002 -- the majority to North America. The increase in exports has added to the problems plaguing North American suppliers. Most famously, Delphi, which is seeking to emerge from bankruptcy, has closed dozens of plants and moved some production overseas to become more competitive, including to China.

Soon China will be exporting whole vehicles to North America. Last year, Chrysler signed a deal with China's largest car company, Chery Automobile, to supply a Dodge subcompact.

"This is the first Chinese-made engine going into this market," said Eric A. Fedewa, vice president for powertrain forecasts at CSM Worldwide, an automotive analysis firm. "It was an experiment to see if GM could use its facility in China to take costs out of a vehicle."

GM neither promoted nor hid the fact that the Equinox engine (and that of its twin, the Pontiac Torrent) is made in China. The car's sticker notes 55 percent of its content is make in the United States and Canada, 20 percent in Japan, 15 percent in China and the rest from elsewhere.

But no sticker tells consumers the engine is built at Shanghai General Motors, a joint venture of GM and the Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp., a Chinese company.

The same model of engine as the one made in China is produced at a GM engine plant in Tonawanda, N.Y., about a two-hour drive from the Canadian factory that builds the Equinox.

GM does not break out internal costs, so it is not known how the Chinese engines compare in price with those from Tonawanda. Fedewa said an engine of this sort costs $800 to $900 to make.

Even in an era of global manufacturing, the Equinox is exceptionally international. Its engineering was largely done here in Oshawa, headquarters of General Motors of Canada. It uses a five-speed automatic transmission made in Japan by Aisin Seiki, though GM is a leading manufacturer of automatic transmissions. And the parts are assembled at a factory in Ingersoll, Ontario, a joint venture between GM and Suzuki, another Japanese firm.

Suzuki was a major driver in the decision to use the Chinese-made engine. Kauling, a senior engineering manager at GM Canada who helped develop the Equinox, said his group had worked closely with engineers at Suzuki, as well as GM engineers in Germany, China and Warren.

"The Suzuki guys said, 'We have the global logistics that can make this happen,' " Fedewa said. Suzuki proposed loading a container ship in Shanghai with engines, then having it stop in Japan to pick up transmissions on its way to Canada.

Article continues at link.
 

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Re: "Buy American, Get Chinese Engine"; Media Discovers Chevy Equinox Powertrain Sour

The same model of engine as the one made in China is produced at a GM engine plant in Tonawanda, N.Y., about a two-hour drive from the Canadian factory that builds the Equinox.
It's amazing to think that sourcing an engine from thousands of miles away is cheaper then sourcing it just two hours away from the actual point of use.

The next few years in the automobile industry are going to be interesting to say the least.
 

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Re: "Buy American, Get Chinese Engine"; Media Discovers Chevy Equinox Powertrain Sour

wheres the, "buy german, get american transmission" article?
 

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Re: "Buy American, Get Chinese Engine"; Media Discovers Chevy Equinox Powertrain Sour

It's amazing to think that sourcing an engine from thousands of miles away is cheaper then sourcing it just two hours away from the actual point of use.

The next few years in the automobile industry are going to be interesting to say the least.
The 3.5L and 3.9L are still made in Tonawanda. The 3.4L is only produced at SGM in China. A little research would do this writer wonders.
 

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Re: "Buy American, Get Chinese Engine"; Media Discovers Chevy Equinox Powertrain Sour

What about the Hemi V-8's being made in Mexico???

Oh well, whatever. What's new? The U.S. enjoys selling out to the lowest bidder...
 

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Re: "Buy American, Get Chinese Engine"; Media Discovers Chevy Equinox Powertrain Sour

^^the lowest bidder is just the way the market works. Why get a bunch of new hires when you can rotate 30 interns and pick the best one? Why spend more money to produce the exact same product of the exact same quality that can be done cheaper by someone with a more efficient line?

If Suzuki made the logistics possible for the Chinese engine to make it here, then you can bet that it will be over with soon, as Suzuki was dumped by GM (or am I mistaken?).
I still think the best engine for the base Equinox would be the 2.4L ecotec, but I'd like to see how well the 2.0L Turbo would do. The 3.5L engine that is no longer in the Malibu would be a good choice for a V6....esp if it can be had with direct injection for 240 ish horses.

I don't know what uses the 3.9L other than the Impala and those minivan thingys. I hear that it's powerful but takes more fuel than the 3.5L engine or the 3.8L engine.

The 3.5L and 3.9L are still made in Tonawanda. The 3.4L is only produced at SGM in China. A little research would do this writer wonders.
I think the 5.3L in my truck is made in Mexico....so it wouldn't surprise me if the 3.5L V6 was made in Mexico too. I imagine that the American companies pay pretty well over there.

I bet the most secure GM engine jobs are the guys making the 3.6L V6. That thing is replacing every GM V6 and some V8s.

I guess the ecotec 2.0L turbo and the DI 4 cylinders are going to be popular too.
 

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Re: "Buy American, Get Chinese Engine"; Media Discovers Chevy Equinox Powertrain Sour

I think the 5.3L in my truck is made in Mexico....so it wouldn't surprise me if the 3.5L V6 was made in Mexico too.
Yeah, Ramos builds the 3.5L too.

member12 said:
I bet the most secure GM engine jobs are the guys making the 3.6L V6. That thing is replacing every GM V6 and some V8s.
And is exactly why the 3.4L is sourced from China - it's on its death-bed in the U.S. market.

member12 said:
I guess the ecotec 2.0L turbo and the DI 4 cylinders are going to be popular too.
And smaller. The Ecotec is an excellent mill.
 

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Re: "Buy American, Get Chinese Engine"; Media Discovers Chevy Equinox Powertrain Sour

How is this different than the old Vue using a Honda V6? Heck, this can't be worse than importing a whole car and selling it under a Saturn nameplate. To me, this is only a big deal because it involves China.
 

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Re: "Buy American, Get Chinese Engine"; Media Discovers Chevy Equinox Powertrain Sour

It's amazing to think that sourcing an engine from thousands of miles away is cheaper then sourcing it just two hours away from the actual point of use.

The next few years in the automobile industry are going to be interesting to say the least.
cheaper? Where did it say anything about being cheaper?
 

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Re: "Buy American, Get Chinese Engine"; Media Discovers Chevy Equinox Powertrain Sour

Yeah, Ramos builds the 3.5L too.

And is exactly why the 3.4L is sourced from China - it's on its death-bed in the U.S. market.

And smaller. The Ecotec is an excellent mill.

They build the 5.3, and I believe 3.5 in St. Catherines Ontario. Not sure about the 3.9.
 

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Re: "Buy American, Get Chinese Engine"; Media Discovers Chevy Equinox Powertrain Sour

Well they should have been blasted for it....no, they should be taken out back and shot for it.

That engine is LOUD, it revs like it was full of sand and to anyone who didn't know the base engine was made in China, with the characteristics of that engine, it shouldn't be a big shocker.

Of course my sour opinion may be based on the fact that the base Equinox is a cheap, rough piece of junk as a whole, they might as well make the whole thing there.

This is a sad state people, Chinese quality is just fine for a toothbrush or an Ipod, but when things like major car components start coming from there, it's time to rethink our priority.

Then again that engine may well be a piece of crap regardless of who builds it, I don't know, but regardless, it isn't much for an engine....
 

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Re: "Buy American, Get Chinese Engine"; Media Discovers Chevy Equinox Powertrain Sour

They build the 5.3, and I believe 3.5 in St. Catherines Ontario. Not sure about the 3.9.
The many iterations of the 5.3L are built in Romulus, MI (LC9, LH6, LMG, LY5, LMF, LH8) and St. Catherines, Ont (LC9, LMG, LY5, LMF). The 3.5L (LZ4, LZE) and 3.9L (LZG, LZ9, LGD) are built in Ramos Arizpe, MX and Tonawanda, NY.
 

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Re: "Buy American, Get Chinese Engine"; Media Discovers Chevy Equinox Powertrain Sour

That engine is LOUD, it revs like it was full of sand and to anyone who didn't know the base engine was made in China, with the characteristics of that engine, it shouldn't be a big shocker.
At full throttle, maybe, but at idle it's smooth and quiet. That's my daily experience anyway...
 

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Re: "Buy American, Get Chinese Engine"; Media Discovers Chevy Equinox Powertrain Sour

Wait a minute, are they trying to tell me that the US imports lots of stuff from China, our oldest-yes oldest-trading partner? Are they trying to tell me that besides toasters, dog food, televisions, clothes, computers, and just about anything else you can buy here that the Equinox's engine is also built in China and sent to the US? I'm not so sure what the big discovery was here.

I'll admit, I do try to buy locally. As one example, a big box retailer moved into town, yet I still buy my chicken feed at the local Farmer's co-op; I like the service I receive there, I think the family that owns and operates the co-op is nice, and I want to attempt to preserve the quaintness of my local town. But I understand this is a global game, and competition is ultimately good. The cost for chicken feed at the local co-op dropped about 15% since the big box opened. How can I argue with that?
 

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Re: "Buy American, Get Chinese Engine"; Media Discovers Chevy Equinox Powertrain Sour

Honestly, this has been common knowledge since the Nox came out. I remember reading about it in C&D's first road test. I wonder about the state of journalism in this country.

That being said, I like the Nox, but will never buiy one with the Chinese built mill. I avoid Chinese products whenever possible.
 

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Re: "Buy American, Get Chinese Engine"; Media Discovers Chevy Equinox Powertrain Sour

While global economy and competition are definitely good, it is NOT good if Chinese parts are inferior in quality to domestically made ones, especially when the China goods push the domestic production out of business. For example I don't care if a brake hose will cost $10 or $20 -- if this part fails, the driver could easily be involved in a fatal crash.

I redid my brakes on my 89 Chevy Beretta the other week and got parts from NAPA (NORTH AMERICAN Parts Association). What could be more American than that?
The hoses had a "made in china" label, the rotors proudly stated that they were "Made in china", the calipers were rebuilt domestically, but the pads were also chinese-sourced. It's ridiculous when the consumer has no choices left.
 

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Re: "Buy American, Get Chinese Engine"; Media Discovers Chevy Equinox Powertrain Sour

Well they should have been blasted for it....no, they should be taken out back and shot for it.

That engine is LOUD, it revs like it was full of sand and to anyone who didn't know the base engine was made in China, with the characteristics of that engine, it shouldn't be a big shocker.

Of course my sour opinion may be based on the fact that the base Equinox is a cheap, rough piece of junk as a whole, they might as well make the whole thing there.

This is a sad state people, Chinese quality is just fine for a toothbrush or an Ipod, but when things like major car components start coming from there, it's time to rethink our priority.

Then again that engine may well be a piece of crap regardless of who builds it, I don't know, but regardless, it isn't much for an engine....
i tend to agree. i'd like to downsize a little with gas getting closer to $4 a gallon, and i like the styling of the Torrent, but inside it's an embarrassment, and the 3.4L does not impress at all. the thing i notice the most about it is how much noise it makes in relation to the amount of effort you get out of it. at WOT it's raucous and yet it doesn't seem to propel the vehicle down the road like, say, a Vue with the Honda engine in it, which works much more smoothly and has a more pleasant sound. let's not even get into the whole horrible interior debate that looks like it was imported from Fisher-Price with fabrics straight out of 1986. the Equinox as a whole needs a revamp.

as far as the whole made in China thing, why aren't we hearing about the other automakers that have parts and entire cars from other countries. isn't Mexico still a foreign country?
 

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Re: "Buy American, Get Chinese Engine"; Media Discovers Chevy Equinox Powertrain Sour

How is this different than the old Vue using a Honda V6? Heck, this can't be worse than importing a whole car and selling it under a Saturn nameplate. To me, this is only a big deal because it involves China.
Well the Honda V6 is a very refined engine, the Nox's 3.4L pales in comparison. Over the past year or so China has been involved in many recalls involving toys and other products. I think due to the negative publicity the media felt it dully noted this time around to report that the Nox had a Chinese sourced engine. I for one never understood why GM would source their engines from of all places China a country that has yet to prove themselves with regard to engine technology and refinement especially here in the states. The lowest commn denominator is not always the best option and this proves it.:cool:
 

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Re: "Buy American, Get Chinese Engine"; Media Discovers Chevy Equinox Powertrain Sour

I have been insulted for some time with Chevrolet's, "It's an American Revolution!" advertising to sell cars made in Canada, Mexico, and Asia.
 

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Re: "Buy American, Get Chinese Engine"; Media Discovers Chevy Equinox Powertrain Sour

Warning! Chinese engines may contain lead!
 
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