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Musical (engine) plants

by David Zatz on

Daimler liked to replace factories; Fiat tends to re-use them. That’s good news for people in the Detroit area, as we look at  FCA US’ engine-building strategy.

The Pentastar V6, current Hemi V8, and World Gas Engines are reportedly being phased out over the next ten years (the Pentastar may remain). Where will they build the new engines?

For the most part, the new engines will be built in the same place as the existing ones. New lines or revised equipment can start up as old motors are being made, within the same plants.

Some machines are easily changed over with programming changes;  others require a year or more of planning, and weeks or months to actually change parts and programs.

One source wrote that much of the Mexican Hemi equipment is older than ideal, and would likely be scrapped in a changeover. The cam and crank grinders could be rebuilt, “better than new ones,” as the bases would be well seasoned.

mack engine

Trenton North is flexible, and likely to pilot and produce the first  Hurricane engines, in small volumes. Allpar sources wrote that old equipment is being removed from the North plant now, with production of Hurricanes starting within the year. The South plant is still building Pentastars.

Hurricane production is bound to expand to at least one more plant — would it be at Trenton, Mack Avenue, or Dundee? Dundee is currently making four-cylinders, three weeks on and one week off, with one of its twin plants mothballed. What is in Dundee’s future?

Mack Avenue makes the Pentastar V6, but still has a good deal of free space, making it a likely candidate for the new six-cylinder, with  its new crank and cam lines likely to be added to Trenton and Mack.

When it comes to V8s, FCA could build up a surplus, close the Saltillo line temporarily, and retool it; or even shift V8s into the United States, though this seems unlikely now. The post-2021 Hemi is predicted to be a low-volume engine, but predictions have been wrong before.

Note: This article does not reveal secrets, but is mainly an industry perspective on standard operating procedures with speculation based on past behaviors.

David Zatz founded Allpar in 1998 (based on a site he had begun in 1993-94), after years of writing reviews for retail trades. He has been quoted by the New York Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Detroit News, and USA Today. Before making Allpar a full-time career, he was a consultant in organizational psychology. You can reach him by using our contact form (much preferred) or by calling (313) 766-2304


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