After 13 years, the last 2.4 liter 4-cylinder Ecotec engine rolled off the line last week at General Motors Tonawanda Engine Plant in Buffalo, New York. In total, 4,149,000 copies of the engine have been built, with the last unit destined to serve duty in a (last-gen) 2012 Chevy Malibu. The 2.4L carried two GM RPO codes – LE5 and LE9 (for the E85-capable version).
The 2.4L engine, which was also available in a 2.2L form, was the precursor to the direct-injected 2.4 liter (RPO code) LEA unit that itself is about to be replaced by the 2.5 liter (RPO code LCV). In the 2012 Malibu that it will call home, the LE5 made 169 hp (126 kW) and 160 lb.-ft (217 Nm) of torque, while also having been available in the Chevrolet HHR and Cobalt as well as the Saturn Ion.
Completing the final production run of the 2.4L last Wednesday was a crew of 13 employees who remained to build the last batch while their colleagues were busy ramping up production of two new engine lines — the next-gen 2.5L/2.0L turbo Ecotecs and GM’s fifth-generation V8.
“Each person on the 2.4L team took on additional responsibility for performing several jobs daily as they built one part of the engine in the morning, and then moved down the line to finish them in the afternoon,” said UAW Local 774 Shop Chairman Bob Coleman. “When you’re starting up two new product lines and building out two lines, you do what it takes to have them all be successful.”
According to GM, the 2.4L had the lowest warranty costs in all of GM.
“I couldn’t be prouder of this team,” said Plant Manager Steve Finch. “They sacrificed going to the new businesses with other team members so they could be a part of this final build out. And they did it perfectly, with zero quality issues from our direct customer, the Fairfax Assembly plant.”
The plant, which currently employs 1,018 hourly and salaried workers, is planning to add an additional 40 employees to help staff the two new product lines who will transfer from GM’s Component Holdings plant in Lockport on October 1. Tonawanda will continue building blocks, heads, and cranks for the discontinued 2.4L for export to China through the first quarter of 2013. The plant opened in 1938 and is responsible for building more than 70 million engines.