Inside GM's state-of-the-art Powertrain Engineering Center

May 2011 News

The engines in today's GM pickup trucks have never faced stiffer competition, but there's not much that can be done about their design or performance except to look at the future, which GM is actively shaping inside its state-of-the-art Powertrain Engineering Development Center in Pontiac, Mich.

The $463 million benchmark facility opened in early 2008 next to the company's Global Powertrain headquarters. It's the crown jewel of more than 30 years of planning and restructuring.

Until the 1980s, GM's brand divisions were managed as a confederacy. Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick, Oldsmobile and Pontiac all maintained separate headquarters and engineering staffs that only came together on the bottom line of the company's financial statements. It wasn't unusual for similar vehicles, like the Chevrolet Camaro and Pontiac Firebird, to use V-8 or V-6 powertrains with designs and parts that didn't share much in common except for their intended purpose and maybe a few bolts.

Industry rivalry changed all of that. As Japanese cars became popular and Ford and Chrysler grabbed market share from GM with new products, GM consolidated divisional engineering teams into shared resources that would design fewer engines at less cost with increased reliability.

In 1984, five engineering development teams became two with the creation of the Buick-Oldsmobile-Cadillac and Chevrolet-Pontiac-GM of Canada Powertrain divisions. In 1990, they merged into a single entity, General Motors Engine Division. In 1991, GMED and Hydra-Matic transmission groups were reorganized to create GM Powertrain. Later that year, the Central Foundry Division and Advance Engineering were merged into the division. In 1997, the formation of a GM global powertrain organization was announced, encompassing all of GM's powertrain engineering and manufacturing activities outside of North America.


  • Like what you read?

    Want to know when we have important news, updates or interviews?

  • Join our newsletter today!

    Sign Up
You Might Also Be Interested In...

Send to your friends!