General Motors has announced the 2.8-liter Duramax inline four-cylinder turbodiesel slotted for the 2016 Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon has started production in GM’s Thailand assembly plant.

Details are still sparse on the engine’s output specs and fuel economy ratings, but GM estimates the engine will be fine-tuned to produce 181 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. Fuel economy should be respectable, with its highway average hovering in the mid 30’s mpg. The Duramax is also expected to help increase the Colorado and Canyon’s towing capacity past its current 7,000-pound maximum.

The baby Duramax, as it’s been lovingly coined by industry analysts, uses a water-cooled, variable-geometry turbocharger and a high-pressure, common-rail fuel system pushing diesel at 29,000 psi. Also in the mix is a balance shaft that counter-rotates to quell vibrations.

The 2.8-liter I-4 is designed to pass all Euro-4 emissions regulations and can be upgraded to pass Euro-5 and Euro-6 regulations if GM were to make the Duramax available in Europe.

The engine will be shipped to North America and will enter production trucks beginning in the third quarter of 2015, with sales of the diesel-equipped Colorado and Canyon starting in sometime in the fourth quarter. Once at dealers, General Motors is sure to sell a handsome number of Duramax-equipped trucks, thanks to their outstanding capabilities and expected fuel economy. There is still no word on what GM will charge to upgrade from the 3.6-liter V-6 to the baby Duramax.

Continue reading for the full story.

Why it matters

The 2.8-liter Duramax is a highly anticipated addition to GM’s mid-size truck category that has been pined for since the Colorado and Canyon twins were introduced in 2014. The torque-rich engine will be a great choice for owners who often tow trailers or haul cargo, or those whose commutes include long highway jaunts but also need the capability of a truck.

While its sad GM isn’t producing this engine in the U.S., the global-focused automaker already has the infrastructure in place to handle the job. What’s more, having Thailand’s existing plant construct the engine keeps costs down by eliminating the need to build additional manufacturing facilities in North America, though it would help stimulate the economy by creating jobs.

All that aside, it will be great to finally have the 2.8-liter Duramax inside the GM mid-sized twins.

2015 Chevrolet Colorado

Duramax I-4 Starts Production in Thailand, Headed For U.S. Colorado & Canyon High Resolution Exterior
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Press Release

General Motors Thailand will start regular production of 2.8L DURAMAX four-cylinder turbo-charged diesel engines slated for export to the United States of America. Manufactured by GM Powertrain Thailand, it is based on the same DURAMAX engine that powers the Chevrolet Colorado and Trailblazer built in Thailand and sold globally. The export-version DURAMAX will be used in the U.S. and Canadian versions of the Colorado and GMC Canyon midsize pickup trucks.

Duramax I-4 Starts Production in Thailand, Headed For U.S. Colorado & Canyon Models Male
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Speaking at the event to celebrate the start of regular production of the US-bound DURAMAX engines, Marcos Purty, Managing Director of GM Thailand and Chevrolet Sales Thailand said, “The export of the DURAMAX 2.8L to the U.S. increases our output and improves GM Powertrain Thailand’s economies of scale.”

According to Watcharin Sayamrattanakit, Manufacturing Director, GM Powertrain Thailand, the DURAMAX engines bound for U.S and Canadian markets is based on the same DURAMAX installed in the Chevrolet Colorado pickup truck and Trailblazer SUV available in Thailand and the region.

“This is solid proof and recognition that our product, built right here in Thailand to the highest standards, is of world-class quality and good enough to be in demand in one of the most competitive and demanding automotive markets in the world,” Sayamrattanakit said.

U.S. and Canadian customers will benefit from the second-generation DURAMAX engines found in the Colorado and Trailblazer, engineered in Europe and the US with global application as one of its developmental objectives. Owing to emission requirements and operating conditions in the US and Canada, the export DURAMAX 2.8L is estimated to produce 181 hp (135 kW ) and 500Nm (369 lb-ft of torque).

One of the key to DURAMAX’s performance is efficiency. It features water-cooled, variable-geometry turbocharger and high-pressure common-rail fuel delivery system capable of charges of up to 2,000 Bar (29,000 PSI). An electronic engine control module fully developed by General Motors - the new Duramax engine is the first of two users of this control module

It also features a balance-shaft that counter-rotates to cancel out vibrations and enhance smoother and quieter operation at all engine revolutions. In addition to compliance with US emission standards, the DURAMAX 2.8L is Euro-4 compliant and can be upgraded to meet Euro-5, -6 standards.

The first generation of the four-cylinder DURAMAX started regular production in Thailand in 2011. The second-generation DURAMAX was launched in 2013. GM Powertrain Thailand builds both the 2.8 and 2.5L variants.

The USD $200-million facility opened in September 2011, and represents GM’s most significant powertrain investment in Southeast Asia. It is GM’s first diesel powertrain facility in Thailand and the Southeast Asian region and the first powertrain facility in the world to manufacture the four-cylinder family of DURAMAX engines.

The Powertrain Plant sits on a 54,275 square-meter site, adjacent to GM Thailand’s vehicle manufacturing facility. In 2012, the plant started regular production of engine blocks, previously imported from other facilities. The facility celebrated the 100,000th engine build in 2013. It currently employs more than 320 people.

The powertrain facility employs a common, company-wide production system according to the principles of lean production. Main elements of this principle include employee involvement, continuous improvement, Standardization, Short Lead Time and Built-in Quality. It is an ISO 9001:2008 certified facility, demonstrating an ability to consistently provide product that meets customer and applicable statutory and regulatory requirements.

Shipment of 2.8L DURAMAX to the US and Canada will start in the third quarter of this year with vehicle production beginning later this fall.

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