General Motors is one of few automakers that’s said it will stop making internal combustion engines entirely by 2035 to focus on electric powertrains. But a lot can happen in 12 years, and more importantly, gasoline-powered trucks, SUVs and sports cars remain in high demand. So if you like the sound of eight cylinders of fury—and really, who doesn’t?—here’s some good news about the future of the V8 engine.
GM has announced that it will invest nearly $1 billion into several U.S. manufacturing sites. The bulk of that money—$854 million—will be allocated toward the production of a new sixth-generation small-block V8 engine. And no, it’s not a retreat from electricity for GM; the rest of that money will be used at plants in New York and Ohio to support EV production.
Here’s a statement from the automaker that outlines the scope and importance of this plan:
“Today we are announcing significant investments to strengthen our industry-leading lineup of full-size pickups and SUVs by preparing four U.S. facilities to build GM’s sixth generation Small Block V-8 engine,” said Gerald Johnson, GM executive vice president of Global Manufacturing and Sustainability. “These investments, coupled with the hard work and dedication of our team members in Flint, Bay City, Rochester and Defiance, enable us to build world-class products for our customers and provide job security at these plants for years to come.”
Do you want to hear some specs about this new V8? Yeah, me too. But that’s not in the cards today. GM says that “product details, timing, performance and features related to GM’s next-gen V8 engine are not being released at this time.” Of course not.
The GM small-block V8 setup dates back to 1955, and the current fifth-generation one launched with the LT1 back in 2013. That motor made its debut on the excellent C7 Corvette, and over the past decade, has proved to be a remarkably versatile and flexible V8 engine, pulling duty in numerous forms in America’s Sports Car and the Camaro SS; trucks like the Silverado and GMC Sierra; SUVs like the Suburban and Escalade; and even in the Cadillac CTS-V. It comes in several sizes, but arguably the 6.2-liter variant is the most ubiquitous.
I always found it remarkable that this one engine (though tuned and configured in many different ways) could power screaming, sometimes forced-induction performance cars and also tough pickups built for hauling and towing. It’s also a very high-tech engine now, not some boat-anchor that does the job with lazy, low-end torque alone; modern GM V8s boast cylinder deactivation, direct injection and features like dry-sump oiling to maximize performance as well as fuel economy.
The point is, you can see how important the V8 engine still is to GM’s bottom line. Most American automakers are still essentially truck and SUV companies that make other kinds of vehicles as a side hustle. If GM is deploying a new V8 in the next few years that’s meant to last at least another decade, the automaker will absolutely see a return on this investment. Trucks, vans and even vehicles like the Corvette will be using this motor for years—maybe even with more hybrid power like in the new E-Ray.
The question is: Will this be the last GM V8 engine ever? Nearly every automaker that isn’t Toyota will tell you, at least publicly, that EV powertrains are the future; if the industry goes the way even GM is predicting, that could well be the case, though the world could always be a very different place in a decade’s time. Either way, if this is the final GM small-block, we have no reason to suspect it won’t go out with a bang.