Home » GM Isn’t Done With Gasoline Engines Yet, Announces New Small-Block V8

GM Isn’t Done With Gasoline Engines Yet, Announces New Small-Block V8

New Project

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.

Chevrolet Corvette C8 Stingray 2020 1600 A8
The current Corvette’s V8 engine. Photo: GM

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.

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23 Responses

  1. We absolutely love our internal combustion engines, but their days as mainstream/modern transportation-power are numbered. The ICE is going the way of the horse-and-cart; I believe this will be the last V8 GM will ever develop…

  2. Interesting. What I want to know is will AFM destroy the valvetrain on this V8 design as well? Or do you suppose they’ve found a fix that will last longer than the warranty term?

      1. I suppose I should have clarified. It sounds like the DFM system itself is actually an upgrade over AFM. In fact, some trucks lacked the chips to even ship with it activated, but that’s not necessarily the problem. The lifters and camshafts are still failure prone. There’s a lot of reports out there and some class action lawsuits gearing up too.

        1. Is it DFM that’s killing lifters or a different design flaw? Because I do know a company where their fleet of Silverados – which is relatively new – has been going through them rapidly.

  3. Oh good, so we can still expect to see LS swapped Porsches, Subies, Mustangs, Teslas, VWs, Miatas, Changlis, Toyota Starlets, BMWs, DeLoreans, Lambos, and barstools for at least a few more decades.

        1. I kind of see your point, as an observer. But from the perspective of the person doing the swap, how can you blame them?
          An LS variant is the most bang for the buck with HUGE aftermarket support. Why pick something more expensive, less reliable, or with less power, just because random people on the internet want to spend 5 minute looking at something more “interesting”?

        2. I’m torn both ways. Yes, LS swaps are ubiquitous, but a large part of that is that it’s a sensible choice. They’re cheap, and reliable or can be hopped up to massive power, and there’s a huge aftermarket. Oh, and they’re relatively small and light for a V8.
          I certainly wouldn’t look down on an LS put into an interesting vehicle (OG Mini maybe?) And I wouldn’t criticise someone on a budget going for an LS.
          It’s mainly cars that already came with a V8, surely you could find something more interesting to put in there?

  4. I could see a point that the Big 3 say they will be all-electric then * except for work trucks over 10,000 pounds and that is all they sell and stock on lots and all of them are fancy daily drivers. I am glad they are still working on this engine but I will not hold my breath about going all EV.

  5. Electric everything realistically won’t happen for a long time. Especially for larger vehicles that will need ginormous batteries with current tech. GM making a new and more efficient V8 is a good thing. This will probably see some hybrid use to boost fuel efficiency in large trucks. A small motor to help at low speeds and stop/go where ICE is least efficient is low-hanging fruit.

  6. No one here is going to be surprised to hear me say that I hope this engine continues to be further improved and put into cars and trucks for decades to come. I’m not joking when I say this V8 family is GM’s core competency, and if they stopped production of everything else, not much of value would be lost.

    At the same time, GM owns some crazy share of the crate engine business, so even if they go EV-only in new production, presumably the small blocks will continue to be sold to people who live in states that still allow for project cars to be powered by gasoline.

    1. You bring up a good point that is not really ever discussed in most conversations/PR releases these days…
      It’s all fine and dandy that there are EV mandates in place (I think it’s stupid, but I digress), but there HAS to be a market in the future for ICE engine replacements. I imagine that the value of these cars and the ensuing maintenance/swaps etc. could become more and more lucrative as the years go on. All these ICE cars aren’t gonna go away in a poof of smoke or something, and as well all know, rarity is valuable.

      Hmm. It’s a long-term play, but still…

      1. The ICE cars may not go away quickly, but availability of their liquid fuel might, or become extremely unaffordable. Then again, the same could be said for electricity outright! People take their modern way of life for granted, and it literally hangs by a thread. A few well-timed black swans or camel sneezes is all that is needed to send us back to the dark ages.

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