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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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So basically...
By Amiga500 on 8/26/2008 12:23:32 PM , Rating: 2
GM are turning to the likes of Opel for their smaller, lighter technology? And Ford USA to Ford Europe.

And if they are not - why not?

No point in (quite literally) re-inventing the wheel.

Hopefully with the worldwide market all pulling in the same direction for improved vehicle efficiency, greater improvements can be made with the increased R&D resources devoted to the problem.

RE: So basically...
By mdogs444 on 8/26/2008 12:35:51 PM , Rating: 2
And if they are not - why not?

Because the average American does not want smaller. They want the same, but better....meaning, bigger cars, sports cars, SUV's, trucks...but to get better gas mileage than they currently do.

I guarantee you that if each company offered a small car for $15k and an SUV for $30k, both of which got the same fuel economy, or close to it, you'd see many more of the SUV's on the road.

After all, they tried that "small car" crap here back in the 80's at the end of the last oil embargo. Americans, quite frankly, didn't want them.

RE: So basically...
By Brandon Hill on 8/26/2008 12:50:03 PM , Rating: 2
After all, they tried that "small car" crap here back in the 80's at the end of the last oil embargo. Americans, quite frankly, didn't want them.

What you talkin' bout Willis?

Honda can't keep up with demand for the Fit (up 72% year over year) here in America. In fact, the second generation model is launching a month early.

The Civic (up 15%), Cobalt (up 16%), Versa (up 17%), Sentra (up 5%), Corolla (up 7%), Focus (up 26%), etc. are all experiencing HUGE gains this year.

About the only mainstream small car that is doing poorly is Saturn's "new" Astra :) :) :)

RE: So basically...
By mdogs444 on 8/26/2008 12:53:47 PM , Rating: 2
You're parsing my post.

As I said, people want the current large sized cars - Accords, Malibu's, SUV's, Trucks, etc. But they want better fuel economy because the cars are too expensive to drive.

So, my point was that if the current large cars could be produced with higher efficiency, then you'd see those selling more as they have in the past.

After all, the only reason people are moving to smaller vehicles is the price of gas - NOT because they want smaller cars.

RE: So basically...
By theapparition on 8/26/2008 3:24:13 PM , Rating: 2
Of signifigant note is that the Honda Fit is still far larger (interior space) than the 80's econo-boxes. Not only that, it also offers ergonomics and amenities that were unheard of back then.

All else equal, we've seen that most Americans have gone for "bigger is better" type cars/trucks. Exhibit A: Hummer H2.

Only when hurt in the wallet did American buying patterns shift. Gas basically quadruppled in 2-3 years.

Smaller cars are all the rage now, but have yet to demonstrate a sustained trend. But I'll bet the farm that when people get used to the buget impact, you'll start seeing larger vehicles again. Likewise, you'd see plenty of large cars in Europe if they could be afforded.

RE: So basically...
By Hoser McMoose on 8/26/2008 3:44:42 PM , Rating: 2
In some sense though you're sales numbers are kind of proving the previous posters point: People want bigger and better at the same price and the same or better fuel economy.

Look at the Honda Fit for 2009, it is roughly the same size as a Honda Accord from 30 years ago and has a more powerful engine.

The Civic, Corolla, Focus, etc. are all getting bigger and with more powerful engines but keeping the same fuel efficiency (or at least close to it).

Put quite simply, North Americans have NOT bought into small cars at all, we've just redefined what we used to call a mid-sized car to be a 'subcompact'.

RE: So basically...
By mdogs444 on 8/26/2008 3:58:58 PM , Rating: 2
orth Americans have NOT bought into small cars at all, we've just redefined what we used to call a mid-sized car to be a 'subcompact'.

Very true. Like how until 1996, the Civic was a subcompact. Now its just a compact. In the 1980's, the Honda Accord and Toyota Camry were considered compacts, no larger than a Pontiac Sunbird or Cavalier. Now their a midsize. The new 4 door Honda Accord is almost like a Maxima, which is considered an Executive.

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