GM paints enviro-friendly image for Chevrolet Sonic
It isn’t enough to have shiny car paint these days. Apparently, it’s got to be “green” as well — and we’re not talking about the color.
General Motors is touting how its new, U.S.-made Chevrolet Sonic will be painted in an environmentally conscious manner through a process that emits fewer planet-killing fumes as it dries.
At full production, the Orion, Mich., plant that produces the Sonic will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 80,000 metric tons per year – equivalent to the annual emissions from 14,000 vehicles – and solvent emissions by about 108,000 pounds of solvent per year in its paint shop.
GM says it is the first automaker in the United States to use a unique, water-based, “three-wet” paint process. The process eliminates the need for a primer bake oven, normally used between the primer and color coats. At GM’s Orion Assembly Center, three layers of paint to be applied one after another while still wet before a single trip though the oven.
“Cutting our greenhouse gas emissions and reducing our energy consumption were key to implementing our water-based ‘three-wet’ paint process,” said Mauricio Pincheira, paint manager at Orion. “We want to provide a durable paint that impresses our first-time Sonic customers and maintain the tough environmental standards we have across the company.”
- The size of the paint shop is reduced. This process reduces the size of the paint shop by 10%, which saves money because there is less space that needs to be heated and cooled. This process also makes sure the car’s paint job will stay glossy and last as long as ever.
- Orion’s new paint shop also uses less energy. The process uses only half as much. By using the three-wet process, a thin film pretreatment, and exceptionally lean design methods, Orion’s paint shop uses 50% less process energy per vehicle than the shop it replaced. It is also heated by natural and landfill gas, which results in less emissions than coal-fired boilers.
- It now costs less to paint cars. The cost-saving paint process improvements trimmed the manufacturing costs by about $40 per vehicle.