GM Tests Technology To Raise Fuel Economy 15%

Detroit automaker General Motors Corp. says it is testing a new combustion process that could increase fuel economy in conventional engines by up to 15 percent. The announcement comes as fuel economy has become an increasingly important issue due to rising gasoline prices. Foreign automakers have captured a bigger share of the U.S. market in part by emphasizing fuel efficiency, with hybrids such as the Toyota Prius having significant success. The process GM is testing, called homogeneous charge compression ignition, approaches the fuel efficiency of a diesel engine without the need for advanced pollution controls, the company said in a statement. Currently, the technology is being tested in two drivable concept vehicles, a Saturn Aura and an Opel Vectra, and was to be shown to reporters Friday at GM's proving ground in Milford.

The process ignites an air-fuel mixture in the cylinders by compressing it, producing a low-temperature, flameless energy release in the combustion chamber. Since all the fuel in the combustion chamber is burned at the same time, the engine uses less fuel to produce power that is similar to conventional engines. Although GM gave no estimate of when the technology might come to market, the company said it still needs to work on controlling the combustion process. "Additional development costs, including research and testing programs, are required to make the technology ready for the great variety of driving conditions that customers experience," said Uwe Grebe, executive director for GM's powertrain advanced engineering.

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17 Comments

15% is such a kick in the ass. When the Detroit 3 finally figure out that they're losing money because they keep making cars that get 18-20 MPG is when we'll start seeing them try to compete with the Japanese and soon the Chinese automakers. Until then 15% of 20 is 2.5.... OOOH.. call out the band and light the fireworks.

*Clears throat*

Saturn Aura Green: 35 MPG
Chevy Aveo: 34 MPG
Pontiac G6: 34 MPG
Pontiac Vibe: 34 MPG
Chevrolet Cobalt: 32 MPG
Pontiac G5: 32 MPG
Saturn ION: 32 MPG
Chevrolet Malibu: 32 MPG
Saturn VUE: 32 MPG
Pontiac Solstice/Saturn Sky: 31 MPG
Chevrolet Monte Carlo: 31 MPG
Chevrolet Impala: 31 MPG
SAAB 9-3 Aero: 30 MPG
SAAB 9-3 Sport: 30 MPG
Buick LaCrosse: 30 MPG
Pontiac Grand Prix: 30 MPG
SAAB 9-5 Sport: 30 MPG
Saturn Aura: 30 MPG
Saab 9-3 SportCombi: 30 MPG
Saab 9-5 SportCombi: 30 MPG
Chevrolet Malibu Maxx: 30 MPG
Chevrolet HHR: 30 MPG


And I would drive damn near ANY of those cars over a Matrix, Prius, Accord or Camry.

Why don't we get working on integrating the newer types of fuels? I don't get why they research crap like this when there is stuff that's already been proven to work very well.

Actually newer fuels like Ethanol get LESS miles per gallon. The only advantage is they don't use oil. I am waiting for the newer clean Diesels that will be coming in the next few years. These cars will make good power and get around 40 MPG on the highway. Eventually we will get to the point where we can power a car without fossil fuels but for now things like this will hold us over.

Unfortunately almost all of the fuels being researched have problems as well.

Ethanol: Not enough land in the US to power all the cars in the US
Electric only: Causes more pollution than gasoline cars produce because electric needs go up and so does the production of that power (coal, Nuclear, etc [even though they are very clean]).

Why doesn't GM as well as the Big 3 bring their European Cars to the US? They're smaller, more fuel efficient, and loved by Europeans (or so I'm led to believe). Diesel engines too.

Your looking forward to cars that do 40mpg? jesus christ, i'd be gutted if i brought a car now that did less than that, Americans should have thought about using smaller engines years ago, and yet most are still unwilling to sacrifice power for fuel efficiency, it's a case of too little too late in my opinion.

Well, as an American, I'm happy with my 400hp 6.0L V8 "gas guzzler". I get decent enough gas mileage. Yeah, it'd be nice if it was better, but at this point, it's not that high on the priority list. I could even go to a Corvette, which has the exact same engine as my car ('05 Pontiac GTO) and get "better" gas mileage (close to 30mpg on the highway opposed to 25mpg in my car). Wtf would I want to drive a 80hp pos just because it "gets good gas mileage"?

There's more to a car than whether or not it gets great gas mileage or not. Sure, it plays a big part in it, but I'm also not the typical American that wants a giant SUV that gets half the gas mileage my car does. So add me to the list of being excited about cars that get 40mpg. Specifically high performance cars, because thats where we're headed. I almost refuse to purchase another 4cyl vehicle. I went from a 4cyl truck that couldn't even get past 75mph on the highway, to a 2 V6 vehicles to a V8. Call me spoiled, but I'm happy with my V8.

If you don't live in the US you don't understand the reason most want a car with a more powerful engine. I live in Colorado and if you don't have 4 wheel drive in the winter forget about driving. You'd be amazed at the amount of people who drive a Jeep of some sort out here.

Also, going up several hundred feet in a 4 cyl car up and down all over the city just doesn't cut it. Not all highways here are flat. Of course there are people that just want powerful cars but that's just the history of the nation, we are spoiled point blank. And we whine. Alot.

I was going to post a comment along the lines of "It's because of that sort of attitude your countrys turning to sh*t", but clearly it's a waste of time, it will be interesting to see where your country stands in 5 years time when you have other countrys dictating the price of oil to you bleeding your country dry.

I guess I'm the only one who thinks this is a great step in the right direction. It just goes to show that no matter what, people will always find a reason to complain.

It would have been a step in the right direction 10+ years ago, by the time this comes to market fuel prices will have gone up by allot more than 15% and companys will be forced to look at alternative's to oil simply because of the price.

That's 15% across the board folks...not just for large V8's. That means your Vauxhall or Opel 4-cylinder that's getting 30-40 mpg right now will get the 15% increase too.

scsgoal31, what are you doing...you can't let the masses know that Detroit's cars get pretty much the same gas mileage as their similarly equipped European and Japanese counterparts!!! That would be telling the truth and you can;t have that when discussing American cars

You do realize that 15% of 30mpg is only 4.5mpg extra so instead of 30mpg you'll be getting 34.5mpg, whoop de do. It's definitely better but people don't decide to buy cars based on a 4.5mpg increase.

*Note: 40mpg would be 46mpg

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