Saturday, May 20, 2006

GM retools engine lineup

Friday, May 19, 2006

GM retools engine lineup

The automaker plans 19 new or revamped engines, transmissions; hybrid system in works.

Dee-Ann Durbin / Associated Press

DETROIT -- General Motors Corp. said Thursday it is introducing 19 new or significantly redesigned engines and transmissions in its 2007 model year vehicles, including a new hybrid system and a fuel-saving V-6.

The world's biggest automaker also said it will offer 14 models -- or about 400,000 total vehicles -- that can run on E85 ethanol in the 2007 model year, compared with nine models in 2006.

New ethanol-capable vehicles are the Chevrolet Express and GMC Savana vans, the Chevrolet Uplander minivan and two more models that haven't yet been announced, spokeswoman Susan Garavaglia said. GM already has nearly 2 million ethanol-capable vehicles on the road.

GM's 2007 Saturn Vue Green Line, due out this summer, will have a new gas-electric hybrid system that GM says will use up to 20 percent less fuel than a traditional Saturn Vue.

Like other gas-electric hybrids, the Green Line saves on gas consumption by shutting off the engine while idling, giving the vehicle a boost of electric power during acceleration and capturing electrical energy when the vehicle is braking. GM brought down the price by making a simpler system that doesn't run on electric power for as long as other hybrids. The Green Line will get an estimated 27 mpg in the city and 32 mpg on the highway, compared with 33 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway for the Highlander.

GM is developing a more advanced hybrid system in a partnership with DaimlerChrysler AG and BMW AG.

GM Chairman and CEO Rick Wagoner said in an interview last week that he thinks GM's strategy of having several hybrid options is a good one and will make up for the fact that GM has trailed Toyota and other rivals in bringing hybrids to market.

"It's fun to be first in an early-stage technology. It's more important to be right, and I think we have a well-thought out approach," he said. "I think (the Vue and the Tahoe) will show people that we can play with anybody on technology. "

GM also is expanding the number of vehicles with six-speed automatic transmissions.

GM says the six-speeds offer better fuel economy and performance and smoother shifting than traditional four-speeds. They also cut down on wear by reducing engine revolutions per minute.


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