Manufacturing News

Spark starts to carry China made engines

SAIC-GM-Wuling Automobile Co. has started mounting locally produced engines on its Chevrolet Spark to cut production costs.

GUANGZHOU, December 31, 2008-- SAIC-GM-Wuling Automobile Co. has started mounting locally produced engines on its Chevrolet Spark to cut production costs.
Sparks carrying a 1.2-liter engine made by SAIC-GM-Wuling itself were launched in Beijing last week, according to sources from the company.
The sources also say the company will start making a 1.0-liter engine for the Spark in China in mid-2009.
The Spark used to source all its engines from GM Daewoo Auto & Technology Co. in South Korea. Currently, it still relies on GM Daewoo for the supply of the 0.8- and 1.0-liter engines.
With imported engines, the price of the Spark is relatively high. It has a starting price of about 40,000 yuan ($5,845) while its lookalike, the QQ mini car made by Chery Automobile Co. sells from 25,000 yuan ($3,653).
Also, the car was only available in 0.8- and 1.0-liter versions in the past, but many Chinese cities ban mini cars with engine displacement of below 1.0-liter on main roads.
It was mainly the ban that has prompted his company to develop a 1.2-liter version Spark in China, says an engineer from SAIC-GM-Wuling.
He also says the 1.2-liter engine was developed by SAIC-GM-Wuling. Adopting technologies of GM Daewoo in Korea, the engine was put into trial production in SAIC-GM-Wuling in April this year.
The engine has also been supplied to the Chevrolet Aveo and Lova compact cars currently being built by Shanghai General Motors Co. It will also be used in a new car with product code of NGS Shanghai GM plans to produce in the future, the engineer adds.
Another engineer from SAIC-GM-Wuling says the 1.2-liter engine for the Spark is different from the 1.2-liter engine his company produces for its small van Hongtu. GM rebadged the Wuling-badged Hongtu as a Chevrolet and exported it to Peru in July this year.
"Hongtu's 1.2-liter engine was developed by Shanghai GM's Pan-Asia Technical Automotive Center Co. for vans, while this new engine for the Spark was developed by SAIC-GM-Wuling," he says.
But the two different engines share some components, he adds without saying which components.
Located in the southwest China city of Liuzhou, SAIC-GM-Wuling is a joint venture between General Motors China, Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. and Liuzhou Wuling Automotive Co. GM has 34 percent interest in SAIC-GM-Wuling.
The joint venture sold 37,431 units of the Spark in the first 11 months of this year, up 22 percent year-on-year. But the volume falls far behind that of QQ, which is 117,452 units in the same period.
Earlier this year, industry sources told Automotive News China that GM will launch three reworked Chevrolet-badged vehicles in China by 2010.
They include the next-generation of the current Spark due out in late 2009 and updated versions of the Lova sedan and Aveo hatchback slated to debut in mid-2010.

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