General Motors' Tonawanda Engine Plant has been selected as the first of the automaker's plants to produce a new V-8 engine line that utilizes a cylinder deactivation technology that helps the engine produce only the power that is needed, in order to increase efficiency. Plant officials announced Monday it will result in the retention of 635 jobs.
The Dynamic Fuel Management system, as it's called, updates GM's 5.3-liter and 6.2-liter V-8 engines. While GM's Active Fuel Management alternates between four- and eight-cylinder modes, project launch manager Michael Fonte explained the DFM system mixes up 17 different cylinder patterns.
"Dymanic Fuel Management is powered by a sophisticated controller that continuously monitors every movement of the accelerator pedal and runs a complex sequence of calculations to determine how many cylinders are required to meet the driver's requested torque," Fonte said.
Programming for the DFM system includes an estimated 2.8 million lines of code.
The new engines will be placed in Chevy's 2019 Silverado 1500 models.
"We have actually started making some of these. Some of the trucks that are out there have our engines in them," said Ram Ramanujam, Tonawanda Engine Plant Director. "The official launch happens in June but we're making them as we speak."
Local news reporters were given a tour of the plant and watched several stations where components were being assembled.
Company officials say GM's selection of Tonawanda as the starting point for production of this engine speaks to the importance the local plant has to the automaker. So, too, say leaders of the union representing workers at the local facility.
"They entrusted us with this incredible investment," said Chuck Herr, United Auto Workers Local 774 shop chairman. "The future of General Motors relies on their trucks. So for them, everybody, to put all of that into Tonawanda, it shows a lot of respect for Tonawanda."
Ramanujam recalled a visit by Governor Andrew Cuomo in late 2016, when he announced an investment of $296 million to spur further production at the Tonawanda plant. He said instead of talking layoffs the plant is now retaining jobs.
Herr said securing those jobs benefits numerous communities where these workers and their families reside.
"What's extremely important is that we're keeping these jobs in the United States but, more important, we're keeping these jobs in Tonawanda," Herr said. "A strong manufacturing base equals a strong economy."