General Motors today announced that it will invest $370m for a new small engine manufacturing plant located in Flint, Michigan. The plant is an important step towards preparing GM to introduce the crucial Volt and Cruze products to the North American marketplace and attempt to gain leadership in terms of low-mpg vehicles.

Two new four-cylinder engines will be produced at the plant – a 1.4L turbo for the Cruze and a 1.4L naturally aspirated mill for the Volt. The smaller engine sizes will help the vehicles reduce their overall miles-per-gallon rating while still delivering adequate power for everyday use. In terms of power output and technology they are similar to engines already being built by GM in Europe.

The $370m investment includes $349m for the construction of a new 552,000 square foot plant, machinery, equipment and special tooling to support production of the new 4-cylinder engines. Another $21m is allocated for vendors to create tooling for new parts.

The engines may also find their way in to other small cars being built by GM as it works to downsize its range of vehicles and aims to comply with tough CAFE regulations.