In a bid to offer a more refined, efficient, and nimble car that will be competitive not only in North America, but in Europe as well as in other parts of the world, Ford has said it will offer a turbocharged four-cylinder engine in the next-generation 2015 Mustang. This has led to speculation that General Motors will follow suit and offer a four-banger in the next-gen 2015 (or 2016) Camaro.
“We’re not following Ford”, Oppenheiser told AG during the 2013 SEMA show. “As long as they’ll pay me to be the chief engineer, I’m going to fight for every horsepower I can and every cylinder I can,” he said.
Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for cars will jump from an average of 27.5 MPG, where it has been since 1990, to 37.8 MPG by 2016. This mandated increase is forcing automakers to downsize engines, some of which have been removing two cylinders while adding forced induction such as turbo-charging. As such, some V8s are being replaced with turbo-charged six-cylinders, and naturally-aspirated six-cylinders have been eschewed in favor of boosted fours.
For its part, General Motors is no longer offering a six-cylinder engine in the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu or Buick Regal, opting to solely offer powerful turbo-charged four-bangers. But The General has also been able to avoid downsizing its engines in its all-new full-size pickup trucks such as the 2014 Silverado and 2014 Sierra. Instead of downsizing, GM elected to engineer an all-new eight-cylinder engine line called EcoTec3 with a host of modern technologies such as direct injection, variable valve timing, and active fuel management, also known as cylinder deactivation. By contrast, cross-town rival Ford has fully embraced the downsizing trend, and is experiencing a great degree of success with its EcoBoost four- and six-cylinder powerplants.
Oppenheiser addressed the possible future demise of V8 engines, saying that, “In the future, something I don’t think the public realizes yet, there may be a day when nobody, Ford, Chrysler or GM has a V8, or if they do it would be a very highly-priced V8 because you’ve got to add your whole stable of cars and come up with a fuel economy number”.
He also added that downsizing the car or the engine too much will stray too far from what the Camaro is all about, and make people question whether the car should continue on.
“We’ve established what the Camaro is. And if the Camaro ceases to become a Camaro, you’ve got to consider, do you take Camaro out in the future.”
The GM Authority Take
It’s somewhat reassuring to hear that GM would rather kill the Camaro off altogether than turn it into an economy car. However, we’re not against seeing GM’s new and highly-potent LF3 V6 under its hood, or even a boosted four-cylinder of higher displacement, such as a turbocharged 2.5 liter I4.