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GM's goal is to cut weight by as much as 15 percent to reduce fuel consumption

General Motors (GM) is in the midst of developing an electric vehicle (EV) that can achieve 200 miles of battery-only range.

GM CEO Dan Akerson unveiled the project last week at the IHS CERAWeek energy conference broadcast on CNBC.com.

“There will be breakthroughs in battery technology, they’re on the horizon,” Akerson said. “We’re actually developing a car today which is really anathema to the way the auto industry works: We’re running a dual play on the technology to see which one will succeed. One will result in” a 100-mile range, “the other will be a 200-mile range.”

Akerson went on to say that fuel consumption can be reduced by 6.5 percent if the vehicle weight is cut by 10 percent. GM's goal is to cut weight by as much as 15 percent.


GM CEO Dan Akerson
 
Further, Akerson described GM's previous plans to put 500,000 green vehicles on the roads by 2017. It's doing this with its Chevrolet Volt, the new all-electric version of the Chevrolet Spark and a diesel version of the Chevrolet Cruze.

GM hopes to increase Volt sales by 20 percent this year alone.

“Everywhere you look there are opportunities to seize the energy high ground,” Akerson said. “Indeed, our leaders have been presented with an historic opportunity to create a national energy policy from a position of strength and abundance. The pillars of such a plan must include energy diversity, so we do not become dependent on any one fuel or energy source.”

Last week, Akerson called for a consumer-driven national energy policy where he'd like President Barack Obama to appoint a Blue Ribbon Commission (which would lead to the development a 30-year policy framework for energy security with progress reviews every five years).

Source: Bloomberg



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Diesel is not green
By Flunk on 3/11/2013 8:44:25 AM , Rating: 2
Diesel cars on not green. Diesel is a fossil fuel. I'm all for diesel cars because they can be quite fuel efficient but you're lying to yourself if you think they're "green".




RE: Diesel is not green
By BernardP on 3/11/2013 9:58:09 AM , Rating: 2
Exactamento! It's ludicrous to see auto manufacturers trying to greenwash diesel into "clean diesel", simply because it's finally no more "dirty" than gasoline.


RE: Diesel is not green
By CZroe on 3/11/2013 11:10:28 AM , Rating: 2
"Simply because" it burns as clean as gasoline? You missed where he pointed out that diesels were also more efficient. If you don't think that factors in, then I guess dino-fuel hybrid cars are never comparatively "green" no matter how fuel efficient.

Future headline:
New, green, 2025 Toyota Prius gets astounding 300MPG
Your reaction:
THAT'S NOT "GREEN!"

That said, diesel is refined from the same petroleum as I understand it and, therefore, it's not a substitute. More demand for it doesn't make things more or less green because the other refined products WILL be used.

That's also why reusable shopping bags aren't "green" in any way, shape or form. The plastic is a BYPRODUCT of oil production. The price reflects supply and demand. It's cheap because it's an abundant byproduct that has no particular market demand driving production and yet it gets produced anyway when filling a different demand (kerosene, diesel, gasoline, motor oil, Vaseline, more useful plastics, etc).

Abstain and the demand goes down and the price drops even further until the market finds a new use for it at the new lower price. Congratulations: You just saved someone else some money by spending your own money on reusable shopping bags and not using the practically free grocery bags. You also made the person selling reusable shopping bags some money. How philanthropic of you! Too bad you didn't stop a single molecule of atmospheric CO2 contribution and oil refinement continued due to the other demands.


RE: Diesel is not green
By boeush on 3/11/2013 11:43:01 AM , Rating: 3
You totally miss the point on shopping bags. The issue is not price, it's pollution. Not atmospheric pollution, but pollution in the form of plastic bags being strewn all over land and water. Plastic that is non-biodegradable, even poisonous or at least hazardous to animals when they ingest it. Plastic that clogs landfills, interfering with natural decomposition processes, leaching into groundwater, which you then drink either directly or indirectly by consuming produce grown with it. And so on.

As for 'clean' diesels, there ain't no such thing. As long as you can smell the diesel exhaust, that means you are inhaling micron-sized carcinogenic soot. And not just inhaling, but also ingesting, because that crap gets in everything. Woe be to you if you happen to live near a freeway or a busy roadway, with clouds of diesel exhaust bellowing all around you. Sure, individual cars may produce small amounts by virtue of being 'clean', but if these things become popular and wide-spread, those small amounts will tend to add together into Beijing-style toxic miasma. Especially in places where geography constrains air movement or hot summer climates promote smog formation...


RE: Diesel is not green
By Dorkyman on 3/11/2013 12:37:35 PM , Rating: 2
Hey, take care of your own neighborhood.

Where I live, there isn't a plastic bag (or any other litter, for that matter) to be seen. In fact many people pick up the stray McDonald's wrapper or straw when they go for walks. So we have no need for Benevolent Dictator telling us we cannot use plastic bags any more.

As for diesel, you need to compare it to the status quo. A diesel car will replace a gasoline car. It will get significantly better mileage. That's a plus.

I had a diesel car back in the '80s. Great car but there was some blue exhaust (no longer an issue) and the rattle of the engine at idle was irritating to some (no longer an issue). Diesels are great.


RE: Diesel is not green
By Dr of crap on 3/11/2013 12:52:48 PM , Rating: 2
Haven't been to a major "urban area" lately have you -
Dirty and full of garbage, such as plasitc bags. But then those people must not mind it either or they do something about it!


RE: Diesel is not green
By Souka on 3/11/2013 2:28:11 PM , Rating: 2
@Dorkyman: That's proably because the wildlife is eating the garbage, rain washing it down into the storm drains (which go to creeks/lakes/sea), and wind dispersing the bags more than 10ft from where you walk.

:)


RE: Diesel is not green
By boeush on 3/11/2013 5:23:13 PM , Rating: 1
Your 'Benevolent Dictator' of choice is the invisible hand of the market economy. Except it is not remotely benevolent; it is at best indifferent. At worst, it's malevolent, especially in cases where negative impacts are either not priced properly, or never priced in the first place.


RE: Diesel is not green
By random2 on 3/11/2013 6:38:45 PM , Rating: 1
Finally....someone who gets it.

People need to be more aware of the indifference shown by our corporate benefactors, (a word I use very loosely) and start voting with their wallets.


RE: Diesel is not green
By random2 on 3/11/2013 6:31:32 PM , Rating: 3
So none of the plastic bags in your neighbourhood go into the garbage?

Wish the same could be said for the neighbourhood next to yours, or the ones in the next county, state or country. You guys might be perfect but not everyone is.


RE: Diesel is not green
By CZroe on 3/11/2013 3:07:04 PM , Rating: 2
No, these days as it relates to the environment, "green" refers to the greenhouse effect and global warming and not to localized litter. Regular shopping bags are perfectly recyclable, so reusable shopping bags are promoted as "green." Got it? Litter is a completely different issue.


RE: Diesel is not green
By boeush on 3/11/2013 5:17:30 PM , Rating: 2
Who died and bequeathed you the authority to redefine not just mere words, but entire conceptual frameworks? Pollution is pollution, no matter whether it takes the form of 'litter' or not. Green policies seek to minimize pollution in particular, and all negative/disruptive effects on natural ecosystems in general.


RE: Diesel is not green
By random2 on 3/11/2013 6:19:46 PM , Rating: 2
Not to mention the gear-heads who have re chipped along with other modifications and figure the amount of soot and emissions spouting from their stacks is directly proportional to the torque and HP output of their 1 tonne diesel trucks.


RE: Diesel is not green
By Solandri on 3/11/2013 12:00:40 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
"Simply because" it burns as clean as gasoline? You missed where he pointed out that diesels were also more efficient.

Diesel isn't that much more efficient that gasoline. You can't look at MPG to compare efficiency because diesel is a denser fuel. It weighs more per gallon than gasoline, or put another way if you processed a gallon of diesel to convert it to gasoline, you'd get about 1.15 gallons of gasoline. That's why chemists do their calculations by mass, not by volume.

After you account for that, diesel is a litte more efficient than gasoline primarily because of the higher compression ratios used in diesel engines. In that respect it's similar to a high-octane gasoline. Also, most of the vehicles which use it (trucks) are not general-purpose. They have one task (hauling loads of x tons) and their engines can be designed with that exact load in mind.

quote:
That said, diesel is refined from the same petroleum as I understand it and, therefore, it's not a substitute. More demand for it doesn't make things more or less green because the other refined products WILL be used.

There's some wriggle room in the refining process, and you can to some extent vary the amount of diesel vs. gasoline you get out of a barrel of oil. It's partly dependent on the type of crude oil (e.g. heavy Alaskan crude favors diesel, Texas light sweet crude favors gasoline, though diesel and gasoline are very similar in the hierarchy of things you make from petroleum). And heavier fuels like diesel can be "cooked" to break up its molecules into lighter fuels like gasoline. Going the other way is harder.

quote:
That's also why reusable shopping bags aren't "green" in any way, shape or form. The plastic is a BYPRODUCT of oil production.

I always figured they weren't "green" because they're being thrown away in landfills after a single use. I'd rather we use plastics for semi-durable things like car body panels and TV exteriors, instead of single-use disposable items.


RE: Diesel is not green
By CZroe on 3/11/2013 3:14:40 PM , Rating: 2
A great read. Thanks. BTW, I think you missed "reusable" when you responded to that last quote of mine. ;)

Also, as I understand it, the plastic from plastic bags isn't appropriate for most durable/semi-durable uses or else there would be demand for it and it would be used for it. That's not to say that the market won't find a suitable use, but a more suitable use after we stop using it for shopping bags would either be completely new/novel (how convenient) or now financially viable only due to the drop in demand/price.


RE: Diesel is not green
By Jaybus on 3/11/2013 12:09:34 PM , Rating: 2
It is not quite obvious that a hybrid is in fact more green. If it uses less petroleum, then it is because it is running on battery. So one must factor in the charging of the battery. How much coal, gas, or oil had to be burned to charge the battery? Is it really greener? Well, it depends on where it is charged. I suppose that if you charge it here in Tennessee where TVA produces 47% of its electricity with nuclear (38%), hydro (8,3%), and wind/solar (0.7%), why then yes it is. If you live somewhere that has shut down their nuclear facilities, well then unless wind and solar get orders of magnitude better than they are now, then probably not.


RE: Diesel is not green
By Dorkyman on 3/11/2013 12:41:15 PM , Rating: 2
Great article in the WSJ today about this very topic. The data shows that it takes a HUGE amount of energy and CO2 generation to make an electric car, and that the electric car's net CO2 footprint only becomes less than that of an ICE car after 50,000 miles of driving.


RE: Diesel is not green
By Mint on 3/12/2013 7:27:48 AM , Rating: 2
CO2 is a tiny part of pollution. It merely has the biggest buzzword.

Urban air pollution is far more significant in terms of health issues. "Dirty" cities are a in fact more efficient economically and environmentally on a per-capita basis, but it also means that pollutants effect more people before they becomes benign.

The other thing is that new electricity generation is almost all natural gas or wind. The WSJ article mentioned 6oz of CO2 per mile, which works out to over twice the CO2 per kWh of natural gas. So they made the incorrect assumption that each new EV produced results in electricity generation proportional to our existing mix.


RE: Diesel is not green
By CZroe on 3/11/2013 3:02:51 PM , Rating: 2
I wasn't talking about plug-in hybrids. In fact, I specifically excluded them with the word "only" before I accidentally lost it when editing for clarity. "...dino-fuel [only] hybrid cars..." Oops.

And, yeah, the futility of all this is kind of my other point.


RE: Diesel is not green
By random2 on 3/11/2013 6:16:11 PM , Rating: 2
""Simply because" it burns as clean as gasoline? You missed where he pointed out that diesels were also more efficient. If you don't think that factors in, then I guess dino-fuel hybrid cars are never comparatively "green" no matter how fuel efficient."

I think you might have missed the point where Flunk mentioned they were fuel efficient.


RE: Diesel is not green
By tng on 3/11/2013 10:06:11 AM , Rating: 2
If that is your opinion that every "fossil fuel" is not "green", I suggest you move to a cave, wear animal skins, and eat berries for the rest of your life. Oil is used for hundreds of different things that you probably use everyday. If you plan on getting rid of oil completely, it would be a world that looks more like the 1930s.


RE: Diesel is not green
By CZroe on 3/11/2013 10:53:14 AM , Rating: 2
If a hybrid is "green" because it's more efficient, why not a diesel? ;)


RE: Diesel is not green
By KFZ on 3/11/2013 12:53:46 PM , Rating: 2
In that vein I don't think you can call hybrid or electric cars "green" when they take much more energy to build and require mining, including rare earth metals, and it wouldn't be unlikely their "eco-friendly" owners hook into natural gas and coal-fuel grids to juice up. And that's assuming no use of petrochemicals.


By 2ndGreenRevolution.com on 3/11/2013 3:50:24 PM , Rating: 2
Another unfortunate fact of diesel: it's more efficient because than gas because it has more hydrocarbons. More hydrocarbons equals more GHG.


Doubling down on dumb
By Dorkyman on 3/11/2013 12:43:15 PM , Rating: 2
Hmmm... funny the CEO didn't talk about the increased deathrate due to being in a "15% lighter" vehicle. The increase is real, it's measurable, and it's significant.




RE: Doubling down on dumb
By Dr of crap on 3/11/2013 12:59:14 PM , Rating: 2
Always has to be someone to bring up that point.

What about motorcycles?
Guess you wouldn't drive one of those ever! Hope you don't own on of those scooters then, they are way more dangerous than a motorcycle. They can't go fast enough to get moving and are to small for traffic that is going fast.

Hey, they'll always have some form of SUV or pickup that will fit your needs. Don't rain on others vehicle choice!


RE: Doubling down on dumb
By FiveTenths on 3/11/2013 2:17:33 PM , Rating: 2
What study are you referring to with this statement?

Lighter vehicles would have less energy to disperse during a collision. So if two vehicles are built with the same safety structure I don't see why the lighter vehicle would have a higher fatality risk.


RE: Doubling down on dumb
By snhoj on 3/11/2013 5:31:39 PM , Rating: 2
In vehicle versus immovable object yes but in vehicle versus vehicle the combined momentum ensures that the lighter vehicle suffers a greater change in velocity and hence impact. That said I don't agree with the size arms race on the road where people buy bigger and bigger cars to be bigger than everyone else so they can feel safe. The flip side of that equation is everyone else they might meet on the road is exposed to greater risk.
A GM vehicle that is soon to hit market in my part of the world (the VF Commodore) demonstrates the GM philosophy of reducing weight and hasn't changed the basic structure of the vehicle. They have shaved weight by replacing non-structural body parts with aluminum parts and redesigning some of the cars mechanical parts. The main structure of the car is a carryover from the previous model. Weight loss is to reportedly be up to a fairly modest 220 lb though. When weight loss becomes significant enough to allow the selection of smaller components (brakes, drive line, etc) that bring their own weight savings the process starts to feed into itself to an extent.


RE: Doubling down on dumb
By Reclaimer77 on 3/11/2013 5:41:46 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Lighter vehicles would have less energy to disperse during a collision. So if two vehicles are built with the same safety structure I don't see why the lighter vehicle would have a higher fatality risk.


That's because you failed basic physics or went to a public school apparently. When you collide with a vehicle of greater mass, MORE force is transferred to your vehicle (and to your person) than is transferred to the larger one. It's quite simple and I don't know why more people don't understand it.

quote:
What study are you referring to with this statement?


http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2007/04/iihs-and-...

This one is even more in depth and shows conclusively why, all things being equal safety equipment wise, you have a much higher risk of death and injury in a small car colliding with a larger one.


RE: Doubling down on dumb
By boeush on 3/11/2013 8:52:04 PM , Rating: 2
Conversely, you have a much higher risk of seriously injuring or outright murdering other people when you are driving the bigger car and you collide with them.

But then again, who cares about other peoples' health/lives? We're all selfish pigs around here, and proud of it... (right? Right-wing right all right. Let's just take it to the limit of absurdity, and skip to driving M2 tanks around on our grocery rounds.)

Anyway, aside from being a dangerous murderous hulk on the road, your braking distance goes up, the wear and tear you inflict on the roadways goes up (and so do commensurately your vehicle registration fees), your maneuverability goes down, your fuel economy suffers, you need to pay more for your tires and/or replace them more often, and so on. Meaning, it's not only an eminently pig-headed approach to vehicle choice (all other things being equal), it is also eminently uneconomic.

Granted, there are sometimes practical reasons for going with large/heavy vehicles (e.g. a need to carry or tow large loads). But *most* buyers/drivers of post-apocalyptic demolition mobiles are not guided by such considerations.


RE: Doubling down on dumb
By Reclaimer77 on 3/11/2013 11:21:34 PM , Rating: 3
The Tesla Model S is almost 4,700 pounds. So don't get on your stupid SUV high horse. This is about vehicle mass/weight, not vehicle type.

Your post is hateful and outright bigoted, full of offensive generalizations which aren't constructive at all. Post-apocalyptic demolition mobiles? Really? Nice hyperbole lol.


RE: Doubling down on dumb
By boeush on 3/12/2013 10:08:49 PM , Rating: 2
I'm only being as "constructive" as the age-old refrain of "heavier is safer", which is really just a marketing slogan designed to help push high-margin products. I'm more than a little weary of reading this same type of crap on every and any article that mentions (heaven forbid, touts) lighter and/or smaller cars.

And as for my hyperbole, it is only slightly tongue-in-cheek. Just consider the types who drive around in Hummers... 'nuf said.


RE: Doubling down on dumb
By FiveTenths on 3/12/2013 9:47:36 AM , Rating: 2
Ok so in a car to car the lighter vehicle will always lose because of the size difference. so then wouldn't it make sense that reducing vehicle weight by 15% would make the roads more safe? Heavier vehicle's would lose more than the lighter ones, reducing the mass differential.

I think what failed here is not my education but your assumptions.


RE: Doubling down on dumb
By Reclaimer77 on 3/12/2013 11:41:31 AM , Rating: 2
.... wow, this is embarrassing. If both vehicles lose 15% of their weight, the differential remains the same!


RE: Doubling down on dumb
By FiveTenths on 3/12/2013 2:00:42 PM , Rating: 2
What are you talking about?

5000lb car loses 15%, 750lbs, weighs 4250

4000lb car loses 15%, 600lbs, weighs 3400

Old difference was 1000 new difference is 850. The mass of the two is now closer so the risk to the smaller car should be less.


RE: Doubling down on dumb
By snhoj on 3/12/2013 7:36:10 PM , Rating: 2
It's really about relative weight rather than absolute weight difference.

Using combined momentum, Say both vehicles were travelling towards each other at 60mph. Say Q is the speed after impact. 9000lb x Q = 5000lb x 60mph + 4000lb x -60mph.
Transpose for Q = (5000x60-4000x60)/9000 = 6.67mph. Because the result is positive it is in the direction the 5000lb car was travelling in. So impact suffered by the 5000lb car is 60-6.67 = 53.33mph. Impact suffered by the 4000lb car is 60+6.67 = 66.67mph. 66.67/53.33=80% same as weight relativity of 5000/4000=80% also 4250/3400=80%.

Now kinetic energy = ½. M. V^2 so the total KE needing to be dissipated does decline by 15%.


RE: Doubling down on dumb
By FiveTenths on 3/12/2013 8:55:17 PM , Rating: 2
Thank you for the explanation.

Based on momentum then, you couldn't say the lighter weight vehicles are any more or less deadly than heavier vehicles. Even if you doubled the weight the now 8000lb vehicle would take more of an impact than the 10000lb vehicle.

So if the momentum is the same and the KE of the system is lower, why would making the vehicles lighter make them more deadly?


RE: Doubling down on dumb
By snhoj on 3/12/2013 10:23:26 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Based on momentum then, you couldn't say the lighter weight vehicles are any more or less deadly than heavier vehicles.
What?

But that is exactly what momentum shows us assuming that greater impact velocities and higher Kinetic energy absorbtion in a lighter vehicle equals more deadly. By the way KE also follows the inverse weight relativity meaning the lighter vehicle also has to disipate a greater portion of the crash energy.


RE: Doubling down on dumb
By FiveTenths on 3/13/2013 12:12:30 PM , Rating: 2
I'm referring to the lighter pair of vehicles. My argument is not that the lighter of the two is safer, it's that reducing the weight of vehicles does not make them more deadly. You have just shown reducing weight equally leads to the same impact force distribution but less energy overall.

Vehicles like the f150 and Silverado weigh roughly 6400lbs almost any car is going to lose a collision with these trucks and they are the bestselling vehicles year over year so it's not an unlikely scenario. But by losing 15% the truck has almost 1000lbs less mass, so would it not actually be less deadly to whomever is hit by the truck?

And what about collisions with immovable objects? Or cars that are already lighter than the reduced weight vehicle?


Easier said than done
By inperfectdarkness on 3/11/2013 8:14:10 AM , Rating: 2
15% weight savings is like reducing a 4000 lbs weight car down to 3400 lbs. 600 lbs. That's a dubious prospect when safety features and NHTSA mandated requirements have increased virtually every year.

Then you factor in the additional weight of battery packs (even on an electric only vehicle, the total weight of powerplant & batteries will weigh more than a conventional IC engine & fuel).

Believe me, I'd love to see a return to form for automotive offerings, but those days are gone. The AWD "pig" of a 3000GT VR4 weighed LESS than a current RWD Dodge Challenger V6. Sub-3000 lbs cars are almost unheard of outside of A-Segment european cars & 100% carbon-fiber supercars.

I just don't see this happening.




RE: Easier said than done
By jmarchel on 3/11/2013 8:30:46 AM , Rating: 2
It is actually quite easy with most toady cars if price is no object. It is only difficult to do if you want to keep the same price.

JAM


RE: Easier said than done
By superflex on 3/11/2013 9:45:17 AM , Rating: 2
Dont forget the weight of the govt. mandated back up camera and stability control systems, GM.


RE: Easier said than done
By tng on 3/11/2013 10:11:14 AM , Rating: 2
Don't forget a black box that is coming if safety nannies have their way.


RE: Easier said than done
By M'n'M on 3/11/2013 11:31:54 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Don't forget a black box that is coming if safety nannies have their way.

Already present (in small scale) due to the mandated airbag system.


RE: Easier said than done
By OCDtech on 3/11/2013 11:06:46 AM , Rating: 2
"Basically what we're gonna do is take a hefty chunk of our own crap, load it down with a bunch of government mandated crap, then marvel that it even runs at all! Oh, by the way, it'll be 15% lighter than the one made without subsidies."


RE: Easier said than done
By Reclaimer77 on 3/11/2013 5:32:13 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
The AWD "pig" of a 3000GT VR4 weighed LESS than a current RWD Dodge Challenger V6. Sub-3000 lbs cars are almost unheard of outside of A-Segment european cars & 100% carbon-fiber supercars.


And this is why you can pry my Impreza out of my cold dead hands. AWD and sub 3000 lbs. Awww ya baby :)

quote:
I just don't see this happening.


Especially not from GM lol. I mean come on, that's like the Afghanistan "space program" saying they can land a man on the Moon in a few years (and bring him back)...


Who wants this car?
By FiveTenths on 3/11/2013 4:42:40 PM , Rating: 2
Pure EV's don't make sense at this point, when charged by fossil fuel plants they produce the same amount of co2 as an IC engine vehicle. On top of that they have limited range and performance varies massively with temperature.

Hybrids make much more sense, with the range of a normal car and increased mpg by capturing and reusing the kinetic energy normally wasted while braking.




RE: Who wants this car?
By snhoj on 3/11/2013 6:15:36 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Pure EV's don't make sense at this point, when charged by fossil fuel plants they produce the same amount of co2 as an IC engine vehicle.

This is the long tail pipe argument and probably shouldn't be put forward with such certainty. It will be true in some instances when the power generation is exclusively by old inefficient coal fired power plants. Even then much has been made of charging at night and exploiting idle capacity of such plants.


RE: Who wants this car?
By Mint on 3/12/2013 8:00:31 AM , Rating: 2
Coal plants rarely idle at night. Natural gas does.

You're right about the long tail pipe argument being bogus. The question that should be asked is this: If we put 1000 EVs on the road, where is the incremental new generation going to come from?

The answer is natural gas and wind. Hopefully the projected nuclear units will come online in a decade or two as well.


200 Miles is useful
By Ammohunt on 3/11/2013 3:08:37 PM , Rating: 3
Assuming you get that from an overnight charge. I am all for it as long as I don't have to pay for it via subsidies. I will never own one because I refuse to support GM any longer.




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