GM's Powertrain Plan: Less Weight, Better Technology

CNET's Car Tech blog featured an article recently published by Automotive News that described General Motors' multi-pronged approach to boosting it's corporate average fuel economy in coming years. While there is no new news included in the story per se, the author does a good job discussing some of the ideas and technologies that will be employed by the company to help meet the federal government's more stringent EPA mileage requirements. It's a good read, and a great way to catch up on what's coming just around the corner.

General Motors' heavy investments in powertrain technology are beginning to pay off in terms of better fuel economy. GM is slowly building its hybrid business and will launch one new hybrid per quarter for the next four years. The company has just opened an advanced powertrain testing laboratory in suburban Detroit. The automaker is rolling out engine technologies that maintain performance while lowering emissions and fuel use. GM has been adding gears to automatic transmissions, reducing the weight of its powertrains and designing engines capable of being mass produced with high-tech features such as direct fuel injection and turbochargers. The template for GM's future engine strategy is already on the road in cars such as the Pontiac Solstice GXP and Saturn Sky Red Line. The engine used in those roadsters is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder with direct fuel injection and a turbocharger. Horsepower is 260 - the most per liter of any production engine GM has ever made. But Tom Stephens, executive vice president of GM's global powertrain, says more improvements are needed. "I've got to make the lightest possible engines and transmissions," he says. I've got to improve my combustion technology."

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