Print 103 comment(s) - last by randomly.. on Aug 29 at 12:13 PM

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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RE: Good to see
By foolsgambit11 on 8/26/2008 1:04:54 PM , Rating: 5
U.S. Versions have to appear drab because that's what people buy. Why do manufacturers prefer boring cars in America? Because boring cars can't offend. The more dramatic a car's styling, the more dramatically people feel about it. People both like and dislike the car more. That immediately alienates part of the purchasing base of the car.

And why do people in America prefer to buy boring cars over the limited 'stylish' models available (Scions, Minis, etc.)? Even the people who like a radical car's looks might not buy it because, well, what if their friends don't like it? They'd have to put up with people wondering what that means about their character. Much easier choice just to buy an Altima.

Finally, the automobile is, it seems to me, seen more as a tool in America than elsewhere. This is why Americans prefer larger cars, trucks, SUVs, etc. We're willing to pay more for enhanced functionality. But in the end, the car is a tool, and so looks aren't as much of a selling point. BHP is. Torque is. Cubic inches of storage is. Cup holders are.

RE: Good to see
By mdogs444 on 8/26/2008 1:08:02 PM , Rating: 3
But in the end, the car is a tool, and so looks aren't as much of a selling point.

I would beg to differ. Of course, the functionality & features required are typically the first part in narrowing down your car search. But once you compile your first list, often time, exterior looks and styling do make a HUGE difference in buying decision.

RE: Good to see
By Hiawa23 on 8/27/2008 7:54:01 AM , Rating: 1
I agree, looks are every bit the selling point. Back in 06 I was looking for a new car to go with older 97 Honda Civic. I went to the American dealerships, mind you it had to be small, sporty & compact, then I went to the Japanese dealerships, & it was no contest, I finally narrowed it down to a Mitsu Lancer Ralliart, as I wanted the EVO but that was out of my range, & the main reason I did was because I loved the way the car looked, so looks are very important to many. I look at all the hybrid cars & damn near all of them on the market now, are not attractive at all to me especially the ugly Prius. I can't see myself buying an electric car so it's great to see the auto makers look to more fuel efficient drives as gasoline vehicles will probably be the only vehicles I own, & hopefully this along with other technology will continue to bring gas prices down.

RE: Good to see
By Spuke on 8/27/2008 11:17:08 AM , Rating: 2
I look at all the hybrid cars & damn near all of them on the market now, are not attractive at all to me especially the ugly Prius.
The ugly Prius and other hybrids are selling like hotcakes. Toyota can't even keep up with demand on them. Looks takes a backseat to practicality.

RE: Good to see
By whynot on 8/27/2008 10:20:37 PM , Rating: 2
In the case of the Prius ugly is a selling point. It makes the car instantly identifiable. This is important to many people wishing to showoff how ‘green’ they are.

RE: Good to see
By Ratinator on 8/26/2008 2:39:16 PM , Rating: 3
Alienating people like myself as I think the Scion is ugly as sin only bested in ugliness by the Honda Element.

“And I don't know why [Apple is] acting like it’s superior. I don't even get it. What are they trying to say?” -- Bill Gates on the Mac ads

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