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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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RE: Actually
By foolsgambit11 on 8/26/2008 1:34:16 PM , Rating: 2
And 40 cents is "more than 15 cents." I think he was just trying to ensure that no matter how people interpreted "the past few weeks", his statement would still be accurate. He could have been more precise. He could have said, "In the past two weeks gas prices have dropped 12.4 cents." Or, "In the past 3 weeks prices have dropped 19.5 cents." However, he could also have said, "In the past year, gas has gone up 93.6 cents." Or even, "On Feb 22, 1999, the average price was 90.7 cents. Gas costs more than 4 times what it did that week, exactly 9 and a half years ago. The price of gas has gone UP more in the past year than a gallon of gas cost less than ten years ago."

It's true that for the past 7 weeks, gas prices have been falling, and that they've fallen approximately 10%. But nobody expects them to fall back into the $1.20-$1.40 range that gas would be if it only kept pace with inflation over the past 10 years. So let's not get too giddy about recent price drops. Not yet.

RE: Actually
By FITCamaro on 8/26/2008 2:23:38 PM , Rating: 1
I think if we started opening the taps on our oil reserves, we'd see prices around $3.00 a gallon for a while. No it's never going to go back to the prices of old. But that's because the world is a different place now. Demand is far higher. But the more supply dumped into the market, the cheaper the price.

Even if prices do go down I think development of these turbocharged engines and diesels will continue. Because the fear will remain of higher prices. Plus the new CAFE standards aren't that far away. I'm all in favor of turbo-charged I4s and V6s. They're more fun and easier to get power out of. I'd love to have an Grand National. Cause most young punks don't know what they are (they might after the new Fast & Fagurious movie hits) and aren't expecting it when you blow them away.

RE: Actually
By foolsgambit11 on 8/26/2008 3:10:06 PM , Rating: 2
I don't disagree. The developing world has been growing at an amazing pace. Maybe some day we won't have to call them developing. The greater demand for a limited resource is probably responsible for most of the price of oil at this point (i.e. the 'speculation' price increase has just about settled out of the price per barrel). Increasing supply could help some.

But in the best-case scenario, Kaufmann said, the United States could only produce an additional two to four million barrels of offshore oil a day - not enough to shift the global supply-demand balance in a world market that now consumes about 86 million barrels a day and is growing fast. About a quarter of that consumption now occurs in the United States.

While that story argues that not much good would come of expanded drilling, it would be something. An approximately 3% increase in supply would probably cause a dramatically greater than 3% drop in cost. However, due to refining capacity restraints, not all of the that decrease in the price of oil would be seen in the price of gasoline.

But what if we could reduce demand for gasoline by 3%? Barack Obama claims that greater attention to vehicle operating efficiency (tune-ups, tire pressure, and driving style) would save as much gas as expanded drilling would produce. If we could drop global demand by 3%, we could see price drops substantially greater than 3%.

Both combined (the something for everyone approach) could have a dramatic, beneficial effect on the price of oil and gasoline. On the other hand, China, India, and the rest of the world haven't stopped growing. Much of Africa hasn't started growing rapidly, but it may. The increased supply will be offset by increased demand. So instead of a drop in price, even with offshore drilling, we shouldn't expect prices to drop. We can really only expect that prices will go up a little less than they would without drilling. But at least that's something.

Every little bit helps. On the individual level, improving fuel economy by keeping your car in shape and driving for fuel efficiency is part of the short-term solution. On the governmental level, increasing supply through drilling helps, and policies that reduce demand, like promoting hybrids and other fuel efficient vehicles, are another part of the short-term solution.

RE: Actually
By roastmules on 8/26/2008 5:09:14 PM , Rating: 2
I think if we started opening the taps on our oil reserves, we'd see prices around $3.00 a gallon for a while.

Where is this oil reserve you are speaking of? I don't know of any oil reserve that is there to balance out market economics.

I don't like high prices, but we should not use the SPR for anything short of a world war or major natural disaster.

Also, the SPR has only 700 million barrels. World-wide, (when talking oil, we must use global figures as oil is a global commoditiy.) oil consumption is about 87 mbd (million barrels per day). Extracting the SPR at maximum rate of 4.4 mbd, it would impact 5% of the market for 160 days. Oil rates are about 50-60% of the price of a gallon, so that 5% would impact price of a gallon of gas by 2.5%, or about $.06-$.08. Is saving 8 cents a gallon (for 160 days), or a total of $13*, worth it to have no reserves in case of a hurricane, meteor or world war?

CAFE standards are bad: either they are "command economy" or they are socialist effects. The market economoy method would be to increase the mileage and tax on gas-guzzlers (i.e. make 20MPG a gas-guzzler), and increase the tax on fuel at the pump. Let demand drive the desire for more fuel effecient cars.

* 160days/365days/year * 15,000 miles per year / 30 Miles per gallon * $.08/gallon =~ $13.
PS. If my math is wrong, please correct me. I'm not perfect, but I try to be accurate.

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