In what’s described as a “win-win” partnership, General Motors and Ford are creating a new joint venture, called PowerMax Ltd., to produce GM’s revolutionary 4.5-liter V-8 diesel engine for use in vehicles from both manufacturers. Production of the 4.5-liter oil burner for GM’s light-duty pickups had been placed on “indefinite hold” last month unless GM could find the right partner to produce it.
The venture's structure will be similar to GM's ongoing cooperative production arrangement with Isuzu that builds 6.6-liter Duramax V-8 diesel engines for GM's heavy-duty pickups, under the jointly-owned DMAX Ltd. company.
“An 8 percent increase in Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards for 2011, lower national prices for diesel fuel and leveraging economies of scale make this the right time for GM and Ford to build this fuel-efficient, clean engine,” said PMAX Ltd. spokesperson April Fursten. “It will be called PowerMax, after Ford’s Power Stroke and GM’s Duramax diesel engines.”
Production of diesel engines for half-ton pickups was widely anticipated by work truck buyers before last year’s spike in fuel prices killed demand for the expensive powertrains. In addition to GM, Ford was also working on a light-duty 4.4-liter diesel for its F-150 pickup but shelved the program while it studied if there was redundancy with its upcoming 3.5-liter V-6 gasoline direct-injection twin-turbocharged EcoBoost engine.
“We’re going to show Chrysler, Toyota and Nissan they only know how to make (girly) trucks,” said Fursten, echoing recent smack talk seen in commercials for GM and Ford trucks. “GM’s offer to license its 4.5-liter technology for use by both companies is exactly what was needed to allow us to move forward with half-ton buyers. What we each couldn’t do alone, we can do together. And each company will be free to put it in whatever products they think are right, making the partnership even more productive.”
Fursten said GM will be first to offer the 320-horsepower / 520 pounds-feet of torque PowerMax 4.5-liter diesel in its light-duty Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups by the summer of 2010, since most of the testing is done. It will be followed in the fourth quarter of 2010 by the Ford F-150 and recently spied Lincoln Mark LT, which will be sold in Mexico only.
“We need something attractive in (the Lincoln truck),” said Fursten. But she also added that Ford has tentative plans to put the engine in the all-new Taurus full-size sedan in 2012 to differentiate it from gas-only and gas-electric hybrid competitors, like the Toyota Camry.
“Ford will call the PowerMax (engine) ‘CompressionBoost’ for the Taurus,” said Fursten. “It’s like EcoBoost, but so much better.”
There’s also another advantage: Cost. The 4.5-liter V-8’s breakthrough design eliminated the intake and exhaust manifolds and other related components, saving weight, reducing size and lowering costs by up to an estimated $600 per engine versus a conventional diesel.
“Spreading the engine between both companies should allow another $600 in savings, making it about as expensive as a regular V-8 before we add all the really expensive emissions equipment (like diesel emission fluid hardware) to the vehicles,” said Fursten.
The PowerMax will be built at Ford’s diesel engine factory in Chihuahua, Mexico, where the 4.4-liter was slated to be manufactured.
An official statement and more details about the partnership, including news about free lifetime urea refills for first year PowerMax buyers, is expected late Wednesday.