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The upcoming Chevrolet Cruze will use a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine.

The Pontiac Solstice GXP uses a turbocharged, direct injection 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine.

Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid
GM goes high-tech to improve fuel efficiency

General Motors has seen the writing on the walls when it comes to efficient vehicles. Although gas prices have dropped more than 15 cents in the past few weeks, Americans are still gravitating towards smaller vehicles that are easier on the wallet when the times comes to fill up the tank.

GM has spent the past few years working on a number of technologies to bring lightweight, advanced, and fuel efficient powertrains to its vehicles and a number of them are already available or will soon be hitting the general populous.

GM's reinvigorated powertrain efforts revolve around traditional gasoline engines, diesels, hybrids, and Homogeneous Charge Compression Ignition (HCCI) engines according to Automotive News. GM is also looking to replace nearly all of its existing four and five-speed automatic transmissions with more efficient six-speed units.

For its gasoline engines -- much like Ford's efforts with its EcoBoost lineup -- GM is looking towards direct injection (DI) and turbocharging to extract V6 performance from four-cylinder engines and V8 performance from six-cylinder engines. GM's current turbocharged DI 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine can be found in the Pontiac Solstice GXP, Saturn Sky Red Line, Chevrolet HHR SS, and the Chevrolet Cobalt SS. In its current form, the engine delivers an impressive 260 HP and 260 lb-ft of torque.

In the near future, GM will apply turbocharging to its existing DI 3.6-liter six-cylinder engine to boost output from roughly 300 HP to around 400 HP. On the lower end of the spectrum, a new 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine will finds its way into the Chevrolet Cruz -- the replacement for the Chevrolet Cobalt -- in place of the existing 2.2-liter normally aspirated (NA) four-cylinder engine.

On the diesel front, GM points to its upcoming 4.5-liter V8 diesel engine which will be used in its light-duty pickups and full-size SUVs. According to GM, the engine itself is 75 pounds lighter than traditional diesel engines and will allow its hefty trucks to achieve 26 MPG on the highway.

When it comes to hybrids, GM is already making ground with its mild hybrid system in the Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid and Saturn Aura Green Line. Eventually, the company's more efficient two-mode hybrid system -- currently used in full-size pickups and SUVs -- will find its way into the Saturn Vue Green Line and GM's other mid-size cars and SUVs.

Finally, GM is also banking on HCCI technology to extract diesel-like fuel economy from a gasoline engine. DailyTech first brought you news of this technology when Mercedes unveiled its F700 research vehicle. According to GM, adding HCCI to a gasoline engine boost fuel economy by 15 percent and significantly reduced harmful tailpipe emissions.

GM hopes to stay a step ahead of its competitors with its upcoming powertrain advances; however, its competitors likely aren't sitting still when it comes to their own efforts in striving for greater performance and engine efficiency.



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I wonder how GM will do in the new economy
By retrospooty on 8/26/2008 11:47:13 AM , Rating: 0
Typically, GM (and ford and dodge for that matter) have made great trucks and SUV's but the cars have been literally crap. Poor (ugly) designs, poorly built, poor performance, and poor longevity... Now with SUV's and truck sales plummeting, I wonder how they will fare now that they are forced back into the car market... My guess is it will take them a decade at least to get to the level of quality that Honda, Toyota, and many others are at now.




RE: I wonder how GM will do in the new economy
By Murst on 8/26/2008 11:58:22 AM , Rating: 3
I think Ford and Toyota are actually equal in quality for the new models (this probably has as much to do w/ an increase in quality from Ford as a decrease in quality from Toyota).

Its actually kind of surprising how crappy small cars have been from US companies. They have some pretty decent offerings in Europe. There's been some success with Corvette (I still think its the best sports car in its price range), and Ford has had success with the Taurus in the 90s, although the new models don't seem to be doing too well. The Neon was pretty decent too (for the price), but it got discontinued I think.


By HinderedHindsight on 8/26/2008 1:56:41 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, the quality situation is interesting. Mercury (sub brand of Ford) is rated #2 in quality behind Lexus. Ford itself is still slightly behind Toyota in initial quality, but as of last year, had fewer recalls across their product line as a whole.

The main failure of the Taurus was all in the marketing. They kept marketing it mostly to car rental agencies under equipped. People got a bad impression from that and the fact that the upgraded engine stayed at 200 HP for 10 years. Meanwhile, Nissan, Honda, and even Toyota standardized around beefier, but just as efficient engines, with better overall designs.

Doing the whole car rental thing may have been an initial sales boost to Ford, but they became complacent with the Taurus and kept focusing on SUVs. This hurt the Taurus' image in the long run.

The Neon was a horrendous case of bad design decisions. Of course the Dodge faithful kept buying and littering the highways with them. No one in recent history comes to mind that would equip a vehicle with a 3 speed *automatic* transmission. It was cheap, but caused a lot of quality issues. The more recent Neons finally got a good makeover, but not before the bad images were set in peoples minds, and ultimately, it was discontinued in favor of the Nitro.


RE: I wonder how GM will do in the new economy
By andrinoaa on 8/27/2008 6:35:02 AM , Rating: 2
Are you insane? The taurus was the ugliest car ever made. It looked like it had melted in the sun. When stacked up against the local (australian made/designed Fords), god it was awful.
The neon came over with a 3 speed auto when the japs were putting 4& 5 speed boxes in. These cars proved (in our minds ) your cars were crap.
As others have said, I don't see any giant leap forward in economy.
Yanks still want large cars? The oil crunch may subside for a while, but I bet the next one will bite deeper and harder.


By Spuke on 8/27/2008 11:28:29 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Yanks still want large cars?
Yes, we STILL want large cars and we're STILL getting them. We downsized from trucks and SUV's to mid-sized sedans and compacts. Camry's/Accord's, Corolla's/Civic's are NOT small cars here. Look at the US automakers websites and you'll see what we're talking about. Do some comparisons.


RE: I wonder how GM will do in the new economy
By FITCamaro on 8/26/2008 12:07:15 PM , Rating: 4
My Cobalt has been fantastic. Then there's cars like the new Malibu, the Pontiac G8, and the Saturn Aura.

And I find Toyota's cars far more ugly than GM or even Ford's. Honda's are starting to look good but Toyota's keep getting uglier. They look like a retard trying to look mean.


By retrospooty on 8/27/2008 9:58:53 AM , Rating: 2
Agreed, Toyotas have taken a big ugly pill lately. But US cars have been ugly with very few exceptions since the death of the muscle car decades ago. Exceptions: Corvette (sex on wheels, always has been, every model) New Camaro/Firebirds look nice etc... but do they last? Not likely.


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