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General Motors Gets Eco-friendly with a Water-based "Three-wet" Paint Process for Chevrolet Sonic

Published on 2011-10-05. Author : SpecialChem

DETROIT -- To many buyers, the shine and sparkle of their new car is a key purchase driver. With the 2012 Chevrolet Sonic, the only subcompact car made in America, drivers can admire the gloss knowing the latest paint processes were applied in a new eco-friendly paint shop to ensure high quality with less environmental impact.

General Motors is the first automaker in the United States to use a unique water-based "three-wet" paint process. Fast becoming a global trend, the process eliminates the need for a primer bake oven, normally used between the primer and color-coating layers. The Orion Assembly Center allows three layers of paint to be applied one after another while still wet before a single trip though the oven.

This process reduces the paint shop footprint by 10 percent, providing additional floor space and reducing the energy needed to heat and cool these areas. This process also upholds the car's glossy sheen, reflectiveness and durability expected to last years beyond the purchaser's final car payment.

"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."

Orion's new paint shop was engineered to minimize energy use while reducing solvent emissions. By using the three-wet process, a thin film pretreatment, and exceptionally lean design methods, Orion's paint shop uses 50 percent 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.

When full shift production is achieved, Orion's new paint shop 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.

These cost-saving paint process improvements trimmed the manufacturing costs by about $40 per vehicle.

About Chevrolet

Founded in Detroit in 1911, Chevrolet celebrates its centennial as a global automotive brand with annual sales of about 4.25 million vehicles in more than 140 countries. In the United States, the Chevrolet portfolio includes iconic performance cars such as Corvette and Camaro; dependable, long-lasting pickups and SUVs, such as Silverado and Suburban; and award-winning passenger cars and crossovers, such as Malibu, Equinox and Traverse. Chevrolet also offers "gas-friendly" solutions, such as Chevrolet Cruze Eco with an EPA-estimated 42 miles per gallon highway, and the Chevrolet Volt offering 35 miles of electric driving and an additional 344 miles of extended gasoline range, according to EPA estimates. Most new Chevrolet models offer OnStar safety, security and convenience technologies including OnStar Hands-Free Calling, Automatic Crash Response and Stolen Vehicle Slowdown.

Source: General Motors

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