Who Makes the Chevrolet Ecotec Engines?

by Amrita Chuasiriporn
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Esparta: Flickr.com

Ecotec engines, manufactured by General Motors, have been used in several cars in the global car manufacturer's lineup. From the Chevrolet Cobalt and HHR to the Saturn Ion Red Line, Ecotec engines have been making a splash among performance car enthusiasts since their introduction. They are particularly beloved for their tuning capabilities.


In addition to Chevrolet, GM has placed Ecotec engines in several of its makes around the world, including Pontiac, Vauxhall, Opel, Saturn, Saab, and Oldsmobile. Both gasoline and diesel-powered Ecotec engines exist, although as of August 2009, only the gasoline models are sold in the United States.

The Basics

Although several variations of Ecotec engines exist, they're all inline four-cylinder engines. Additionally, their blocks are all created using a process called "lost foam casting." Molten aluminum is poured into a mold made of polystyrene that has been pre-formed and treated to ensure uniformity. This process makes cleanup of the finished aluminum engine blocks easier, because there are no delicate fins or seam lines that need special attention. See Resources for more information on the lost foam casting process.

Ease of Modification

Performance sport compact car enthusiasts enjoy Ecotec engines because it's relatively easy to make impressive gains in horsepower with minimal modification. Bumping horsepower up to 400 doesn't require a lot of extensive changes made to the crankshaft, cylinder head, main girdle, or engine block itself. Modification beyond that point is also possible, as with GM Racing's legendary 747-horsepower, two-liter Turbo Drag Ecotec engine.

GM Tuning Kits

While some enthusiasts will invariably work out their own modifications to Ecotec engines, GM itself make various factory-approved tuning kits available for purchase. For instance, GM's factory supercharger kit boosts the horsepower of a stock Ecotec engine to 200, just from its installation alone, with no further modification necessary. A possible advantage of GM's kit is that it is legal in all 50 United States.

Ecotecs in Racing

As further evidence that GM's Ecotec engines are impressive right from the factory, it's possible to set stunning records using mostly stock parts with these engines. Ecotec engines post competitive results in the Sport Compact Drag Racing series, and have also managed speeds exceeding 300 mph on five-mile runs at the world-famous Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.

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