General Motors Co. confirms another round of manufacturing investments, this time aimed at updating small-block V-8 engines used mostly in the auto maker’s pickups and SUVs.

GM will invest more than $890 million between powertrain facilities at Tonawanda, NY; St. Catherines, ON, Canada; Defiance, OH; Bedford, IN; and Bay City, MI. The outlay will create or retain some 1,600 jobs.

Tonawanda receives half of the investment, with $400 million going into the 72-year-old engine plant. The commitment will result in more than 700 jobs, GM says.

In February, Tonawanda received a commitment of $425 million to build the next-generation Ecotec 4-cyl. engine, creating some 470 jobs with new hires starting at the lower end of the 2-tier wage package GM negotiated in its last United Auto Workers union contract.

GM terminated production at Tonawanda of a big-block V-8 last year, indefinitely laying off some 150 people, and a V-6 that comprised a majority of its output.

The plant employs some 650 people, with a reported 375 on indefinite layoff. During the late-1980s and early 1990s, 4,000 people worked there.

The St. Catherines engine plant will receive a $235 million investment resulting in about 400 jobs to also build the engines, which GM says will feature direct-injection technology, an all-new advanced combustion-system design and exclusive use of lighter-weight aluminum blocks.

The auto maker says the V-8s are more fuel efficient and will help it meet stricter fuel-economy and emissions regulations beginning with the next model year.

GM does not provide a timetable for the investment or potential applications, but according to Ward’s data the auto maker is scheduled to launch its next-generation of fullsize trucks in 2013 for the ’14 model year. The engine architecture also would likely find its way into future performance models such as the Chevy Corvette and Camaro sports cars and Cadillac’s V-Series lineup.

This would answer Ford Motor Co.’s 5.0L V-8 program. Internally dubbed “Coyote,” the new engine will debut in the ’11 Ford Mustang, but also is expected to power the F-150 fullsize pickup.

GM engine parts plants in Defiance, Bedford and Bay City receive combined investment commitments today of some $258 million resulting in more than 500 jobs.

“These latest investments show our commitment to improving fuel economy for buyers of every GM car, truck and crossover and giving them the best possible driving and ownership experience,” Mark Reuss, president-GM North America, says in a statement.

Ten months removed from its historic bankruptcy, GM has rattled off a string of manufacturing investments in North America valued at some $2.3 billion at 22 facilities and moved a number of assembly plants to three shifts.

Last week, the auto maker announced it fully repaid $8.1 billion in loans it received from the U.S. Treasury and Canadian governments to restructure.

However, both U.S. taxpayers and Export Development Canada remain heavily invested in GM, with respective stakes of 60.8% and 11.7% representing roughly $50 billion. The governments expect to get back that money by slowly selling off their shares after GM goes public again, which could happen this year.

GM Chairman and CEO Ed Whitacre confirmed the repayment at an event to announce a $257 million investment at two U.S. assembly plants to build the next-generation Chevy Malibu midsize sedan.

jamend@wardsauto.com