It's not often that a production facility makes 2 million of anything, but the Duramax turbo-diesel engine plant in Moraine, Ohio, just hit that milestone today. Groundbreaking at the plant started in 1998, with the first completed engine rolling off the assembly line on July 17, 2000 — that's an average of almost 120,000 engines made each year.
The plant itself is 60 percent owned by GM and 40 percent owned by Isuzu; however, the engines only power Chevrolet Silverado heavy-duty, GMC Sierra HD and certain Navistar military vehicles, as well as a few smaller, private companies.
The Duramax plant has almost 700 employees and has received more than $140 million over the last three years to improve both emissions on the engines and productivity at the plant. The most recent version of the 6.6-liter, OHV 32-valve turbo-diesel is the engine of choice for the one-ton Chevy Silverado 3500 or GMC Sierra 3500 pickup trucks, with 445 horsepower and 910 pounds-feet of torque. In fact, for GMC, 90 percent of Sierra Denali HDs are sold with the V-8 Duramax.
We recently test-drove the new Duramax in a GMC Sierra Denali 3500 dually with several types of the heavy trailers through the Rocky Mountains and found it to be quite responsive and powerful. Some of the biggest standout features we liked about the new engine include the more powerful exhaust brake, more responsive throttle feel and the quieter feel on the road. We also like that it now includes a massive hood scoop to allow more — and cooler — air into the engine.
We've already had a chance to see how this new Duramax compares against the other three-quarter-ton competition (called our 2017 3/4-Ton Premium Truck Challenge), but those test results won't publish until May. Stay tuned.
In the meantime, we offer our congratulations to the Duramax plant for its longevity and contribution to the current torque wars raging in the heavy-duty pickup truck segment.