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Cookie Policy

Cookie usage on this site
Cookie usage on this site will be described in this cookie policy. Before doing so, we would like to note that the use of so-called session cookies (which are not stored permanently on the user's computer and disappear when the browser is closed) allows the transmission of session identifiers (made up of random numbers generated by the server), which are required for the safe and efficient exploration of the site.
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VM's origins date back to 1947 when two entrepreneurs, Vancini and Martelli whose initials give rise to the acronym by which the Company is still known today, decided to set up a company to design and build diesel engines. The Company is situated in Cento, Italy in the heart of Emilia Romagna, a region well known for its mechanical expertise thanks to companies such as Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati and Ducati. It was not long before the Company had designed and produced the first Italian diesel engine, air-cooled and with direct injection. In the wake of the war, the market was in need of simple, inexpensive and reliable engines with low fuel consumption. Production took off rapidly and engines were soon exported to other Mediterranean countries.


The rapid growth of the Company meant that new premises had to be found. In 1962 the new production plant was inaugurated, complete with a number of already existing essential services including Purchasing, Sales and After Sales Departments. The technical department was re-structured and a Research and Development Department was created. The latter played a highly important role in the evolution of the Company and its products.


Several new families of air-cooled diesel engines were designed and soon found use in industrial machines and fishing boats. Engine production was divided into families made up of 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6 cylinders, each being characterized by a modular configuration which simplified manufacturing and reduced costs. The principal of modularity is still used in VM engine production.


By 1971 the Company's activities had grown to the point that conspicuous investments were necessary in order to industrialize a series of projects. The Company, under the direction of Finmeccanica merged with ''Stabilimenti Meccanici Triestini'' in Trieste. This merger enabled VM to continue with the development of its products with production divided between the two sites in Cento and Trieste.


Amongst the engines produced in Cento was the new series of water cooled, pre-combustion chamber, turbocharged and high speed (4200rpm) HR engines. At the end of the 1970s, when the industry was beginning to feel the effects of the oil crisis, these engines were first used in automotive applications. The diesel engine was the ideal solution for vehicle manufacturers seeking to reduce costs for the transportation of goods and people.


The 1979 Frankfurt Motor Show saw the launch of the first series production car to be fitted with an engine produced in Cento, the Alfa Romeo Alfetta produced in Arese. By the mid-1980s the automotive sector had become very important for VM. It was in fact the production of automotive engines that enabled the Company to overcome the crisis which hit the sector leading, in the following years, to numerous mergers between various groups of car manufacturers with a subsequent reduction in the number of brands on the market.


At the close of the 1980s, Finmeccanica, the Financial Holding Company of IRI who held the share packet of the Company, decided to sell VM on the grounds that the production of diesel engines was no longer strategic to its core competences. In December 1989, a leverage buy out involving Company Managers and the financial support of the Midland Montague Bank meant that VM Motori once again became a private company with a single production plant in Cento. The Company's mission was to further develop that which had become its most important sector: engines for automotive use.


In January of this year the Company presented a completely new and revolutionary automotive engine - Turbotronic® - which not only used after-cooling but also made use of electronics to complete the combustion process. Turbotronic® was considered one of the cleanest diesel engines in the world and was produced in VM for over a decade. Some of the most prestigious car manufacturers were among those to fit the Turbotronic® engine in their vehicles (among others Ford, Chrysler, General Motors, Rover and Alfa Romeo).


By 1995, three quarters of the Company's income was from the sale of automotive engines. This was helped by the fact that the sector was undergoing a period of immense growth in all markets, and especially in Europe. The Company had become very appetizing and in January of this year VM was acquired by Detroit Diesel Corporation, a leading American group specialized in the production of diesel engines. The Company continued to produce diesel engines for automotive use and was able to build up an important contract with Chrysler for the supply of engines for the Voyager and Cherokee vehicles: two of the leading vehicles in their respective sectors.


In 2000 VM Motori, together with Detroit Diesel Corporation, became part of the DaimlerChrysler Group. In 2003 the share packet of the Company was defined as follows: 51% Penske Group and 49% DailmerChrysler Group.
The Cento plant has continued to grow and now covers an area of 85,000 m2 of which 50,000 m2 are roofed. Annual production capacity is for over 80,000 engines. Our mission, to which over 1000 employees remain devoted, is still the same: to design and produce quality products


In July 2007 General Motors buy the 50-percent equity of VM Motori S.p.A. The Company is now owned by GM and Penske Corporation. With this joint operation VM is part of GM Group. In this year, VM sets the top volume production record in its history to 97,000 engines, by adding, on top of the existing engine families, a totally new 4 cylinder engine RA428 powering all Chrysler group vehicles like Jeep Cherokee and Wrangler, Dodge Nitro and Chrysler Voyager. A remarkable success of this period is also the first-ever application of a VM diesel engine for US market on a small SUV (Jeep Cherokee).


A new product line of a V6, 3.0L displacement engine is launched in 2011, adding a new class of vehicle applications such as luxury SUV’s and large top-of-class sedan, like the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Lancia Thema. Further development of the RA428 engine results in a Euro 5 high performance engine named A428, mounted on the traditional Jeep SUV Cherokee and Wrangler, as well as the newly launched Lancia Voyager. The ownership structure changes: Fiat Group purchases the 50% share previously owned by Penske Corporation. VM is today a 50:50 Joint Venture between GM and Fiat Group.


The latest application of the V6 3L is the Grand Cherokee, intended for the North American market, introduce with huge success at the Detroit motor show.