General Motors last week announced a new diesel engine will be built at the DMAX plant in Moraine, Ohio, helping protect the plant’s workforce of some 600 workers.
Chevrolet will have a redesigned Duramax 6.6L V-8 turbodiesel offered on the 2017 Silverado HD, the automaker announced.
The news is important because automaking and auto-supplier plants need new and updated products to continue operating. The DMAX plant also is the last facility in the Dayton area in which GM still has an ownership stake.
Gary Arvan, GM chief enginer and program manager for the Duramax diesel, told the Dayton Daily News that the public’s enduring love for the engine is making its continued existence and redesign possible.
“The heavy-duty engines are in great demand,” he said. “And the trucks are all about capability. So our upgrade of the Duramax in 2017 moves us forward in that ultimate towing experience and capability.”
The next-generation redesign “offers more horsepower and torque — an SAE-certified 445 horsepower (332 kW) and 910 pound-feet (1,234 Newton-meters) — to enable easier, more confident hauling and trailering,” GM said.
Along with a 19 percent increase in max torque over the current Duramax 6.6L, the redesigned turbo-diesel’s performance is “quieter and smoother, for greater refinement,” the automaker said.
“With nearly 2 million sold over the past 15 years, customers have forged a bond with the Duramax diesel based on trust and capability,” Dan Nicholson, vice president, global propulsion systems, said in a GM statement. “The new Duramax takes those traits to higher levels.”
Last December, GM, Isuzu and local DMAX plant leaders announced that the Dryden Road plant would see its first production capacity increase since the mid-2000s with an $82 million investment that was to lead to the hiring of 150 new workers.
Officials at the time wouldn’t say how many more diesel engines the Moraine plant would produce annually or give a timeline for the new investment.
Mike Davis, Moraine city development director, said the news is a testament to the plant’s “great product” and its “great workforce.”
“We expected a positive announcement at some point because of the related addition of the 150 jobs that are expected over the next few years,” Hicks said.
“It’s really great,” he added. “If you look back, there were discussions on whether DMAX would survive GM’s bankruptcy.”
During and not long after GM’s 2009 bankruptcy, employment at the DMAX plant was drastically cut, by about half at one point. Some wondered whether the plant had a future.
Lack of a new product was a key factor in the closing of the nearby former GM SUV assembly plant in Moraine. Today, Fuyao Glass America has a rapidly growing operation in that facility.
Some 570 workers were employed late last year at the DMAX facility, which was built in 1998 and 1999. Some $856 million has been invested into the plant since 2000.
“It’s not surprising but it’s great news that they’re getting the product,” he said.
Carl Kennebrew, president of IUE-CWA Local 755, which represents hourly workers at the plant, said employees were pleased.
“All the employees are happy,” Kennebrew said. “They are very committed to building a good engine. I think it’s good for the community, and I think they’re excited to continue doing the work that they love.”
DMAX is a joint venture, 60 percent owned by GM, 40 percent owned by Isuzu Diesel Services of America Inc. The plant has produced nearly 1.69 million Duramax diesel engines since 2000.