Chevy Sonic Paint Job Cuts Emissions

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Photo: General Motors

General Motors is using a new painting process for the 2012 Chevrolet Sonic that will reduce the footprint of its paint shop by 10 percent, the company said.

GM is the first automaker in the U.S. to use a water based “three-wet” paint process that eliminates the need for a “primer bake” oven, normally used between the primer and color-coating layers.

The “three-wet” process, applied at a new paint shop at GM’s Orion Assembly Center in Lake Orion, Mich., allows three layers of paint to be applied one after another and requires only one trip through the oven.

In addition to shrinking the new paint shop’s footprint, the process also reduces manufacturing costs by roughly $40 per car, GM said.

The process is far easier on the environment, but car owners don’t have to sacrifice that glossy new-car sheen. The finish is just as durable (and shiny) as that from standard paint jobs.

By using the three-wet process, a thin film pretreatment and lean design methods, Orion’s paint shop uses 50 percent less process energy per vehicle than the shop it replaced, the company said. Over the past year, GM has invested more than $145 million at Orion to produce its new small car.

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, according to GM. The shop will also cut solvent emissions by about 108,000 pounds per year, the company said.

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