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General Motors' Town of Tonawanda Engine Plant has bid farewell to an engine it had produced since 1999, as it moves on to new products.

A crew of 13 employees built the final Ecotec 2.4-liter four-cylinder engine Wednesday, bringing the total to 4,149,000, according to GM. The plant has built more than 70 million engines since starting production in 1938.

All of the 2.4-liter engine assembly line employees are shifting to one of the two new engine lines at the plant: the 2.5 liter/2-liter turbo, or the Generation V V8, which is set to enter production early next year.

The latest product that the Ecotec 2.4-liter engine went into was the 2012 Chevrolet Malibu. Previous versions of the 2.4-liter, including the 2.2-liter, went into the Chevy HHR, Impala, Cobalt and Saturn Ion.

"I couldn't be prouder of this team," said plant manager Steve Finch, in a statement. "They sacrificed going to the new businesses with other team members so they could be a part of this final buildout. And they did it perfectly, with zero quality issues from our direct customer, the Fairfax Assembly Plant.

The Tonawanda plant will continue to make 2.4-liter blocks, heads and cranks for export to China through the first quarter of 2013, GM said.

The plant in late August wrapped up production of the Inline 4 and 5 engines that went into the 2012 Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon pickup trucks.

In a sign of the Tonawanda plant's recent resurgence, 40 employees from the GM Components Holdings plant in Lockport will transfer to the Tonawanda site Oct. 1 to help support the new product lines. The Tonawanda plant presently has 1,018 hourly and salaried employees.





mglynn@buffnews.com