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Stellantis Kicks Off Production Of GSE “Firefly” Turbo Engines In Betim:

Betim Is Now Largest Powertrain Production Plant In Latin America...

This past week, Stellantis kicked off production of its Global Small Engine (GSE) turbo engine family at the company’s newest production plant located at the Fiat Automotive Complex in Betim, Minas Gerais (MG), Brazil. The production launch was celebrated with Stellantis CEO, Carlos Tavares, Head of the Americas, Mike Manley, and Antonio Filosa, Stellantis’ COO for South America.

GSE Turbo Engine Family production at Betim. (Stellantis).

The new factory has a production capacity of 100,000 units per year and required investments of R$ 400 million ($71.5 million USD), including investments from suppliers and Research & Development. This is the first phase of the plant, which starts to manufacture the turbocharged four-cylinder engine immediately, and later this year will expand with new additional investments of R$ 100 million ($17.9 million USD) and the production of the turbocharged three-cylinder will start.

Stellantis CEO, Carlos Tavares and Head of the Americas, Mike Manley at the Betim launch. (Stellantis).

With the start of production, the Betim plant becomes the largest powertrain production plant in Latin America with an annual capacity of 700,000 engines and 500,000 transmissions. The productive integration of the new unit with the Fire and Firefly engine lines promotes a high synergy of management, maintenance, logistics, and technical expertise.

GSE Turbo Engine Family production at Betim. (Stellantis).

“Stellantis opens a new era for our sustainable presence in Latin America and the start of production of this world-class GSE Turbo engine is great news for the Brazilian economy. I’m convinced that our talented and committed employees will make their best to ensure our customer’s satisfaction” said Stellantis CEO, Carlos Tavares, on the occasion of his first visit to Brazil since the creation of Stellantis, in January.

“The inauguration of this turbo engine plant represents a strategic step towards expanding our presence in Latin America. It also brings a lot of possibilities to our product range, as GSE Turbo engines combine the best performance and sustainability technologies, with gains in fuel consumption and emissions reduction. This new production will be a source of great pride and motivation for all of us”, added Antonio Filosa, COO of Stellantis for South America.

GSE Turbo Engine Family production at Betim. (Stellantis).

With more fuel economy, better performance, and less CO2 emissions, the new GSE Turbo family that has begun production at the Betim plant is composed of the codenamed T3 (1.0-liter) and T4 (1.3-liter) engines, both available in flex-fuel and gasoline variants. In the gasoline version, the turbocharged 1.3-liter MultiAir III inline-four-cylinder makes 180 horsepower and 210 lb.-ft. (270 Nm) of torque with a compression ratio of 10.5:1.

GSE Turbo Engine Family production at Betim. (Stellantis).

With world-class quality, the engines of the GSE family have technologies to reduce engine warm-up time, reducing gas emissions, and fuel consumption, especially in urban use (short-driven trips). The aluminum block, in addition to reducing the weight of the propellant, heats up faster due to the lower resistance to heat conduction. The oil heat exchanger helps to reduce the engine’s heating time, transferring heat from the water – which heats up faster – to the oil, which reaches the ideal temperature, reducing the engine’s, reducing the engine’s friction. 

GSE Turbo Engine Family production at Betim. (Stellantis).

With world-class quality, the engines of the GSE family have technologies to reduce engine warm-up time, reducing gas emissions and fuel consumption, especially in urban use (short trips). The aluminum block, in addition to reducing the weight of the propellant, heats up faster due to the lower resistance to heat conduction. The oil heat exchanger helps to reduce the engine’s heating time, transferring heat from the water – which heats up faster – to the oil, which, reaching the ideal temperature, reduces the engine’s friction. On the other hand, the exchanger also prevents the oil from overheating, which brings reliability to the set.

Currently, the Firefly engines are equipped in numerous vehicles like the Jeep Renegade, Jeep Compass, Fiat Strada, Fiat 500X, Fiat Tipo, Fiat Panda, Fiat Mobi, Fiat Argo, Fiat Cronos, Fiat Uno, Fiat 500, and will be used in the upcoming Alfa Romeo Tonale.

Source: Stellantis LATAM

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It seems Stellantis has established a foothold in the South American region that points to a leadership position in that market. I believe that in addition to Brazil, Argentina and Chile are both areas for aggressive expansion as both have the demographics to support the design, engineering, manufacturing and purchasing of quality product, in a wide range of application and pricing to support further growth. Local product can build that market rapidly.
It is satisfying to see the level of expertise being demonstrated in Brazil and I believe the potential to establish a domestic presence and sense of inclusion in a South American business model is clearly achievable and both nations sited here are vibrant South American nations ripe for development and expansion of that business model by Stellantis.

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Fiat and PSA were in bed together before in South America. They had a joint venture in Argentina which eventually broke up. It is common to see Peugeots and Citroens in major cities in Latin America. Fiat, of course, has a major stronghold in Brazil, but the brand has less dominance in the other Latin American countries. Ram trucks are popular in some places with their rebadged Fiat products. Much depends on the fondness or dislike held in the collective memories of consumers for each particular market.

What is little known up here is that Ford bought Willys in South America. They were selling rebadged Jeep models for awhile. Now Ford is shutting down manufacturing operations in Argentina.

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Fiat and PSA were in bed together before in South America. They had a joint venture in Argentina which eventually broke up. It is common to see Peugeots and Citroens in major cities in Latin America. Fiat, of course, has a major stronghold in Brazil, but the brand has less dominance in the other Latin American countries. Ram trucks are popular in some places with their rebadged Fiat products. Much depends on the fondness or dislike held in the collective memories of consumers for each particular market.

What is little known up here is that Ford bought Willys in South America. They were selling rebadged Jeep models for awhile. Now Ford is shutting down manufacturing operations in Argentina.

Ford is in retreat and circling the wagons thinking currently and should not be our benchmark. Start small, parts perhaps first, augment something built out in Brazil next, but the course is clear and open, the opportunity to capitalize on getting it right and winning hearts and minds is clear. Argentina, to me, with it’s overwhelming European population is a great venture not to be dismissed. Stellantis has a foothold, time to take the whole leg.

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I was suggesting Ford of Argentina provides an example of what NOT to do. Right now is the second chance for a combined Fiat-PSA effort in Argentina. The Dodge brand is also remembered fondly in that country as well. Calling the trucks Rams isn't a detriment because it is a cultural thing to think symbolically. Just look how Mexico City names their transit stations and the use of icons with the printed names.

Fiat is strong in Brazil and now Jeep is rapidly gaining ground there. PSA products seem to have strength in Argentina, but the needed product updates arrived only recently.

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There is the only one market which is worthy for exploit. It's Brazil. All other should be served with Brazilian products.

And it's important to learn something about free trade agreements. Who has them and with whom.

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