Reductions in vehicle mass and enhancements to the ICE are the keys to improving the efficiency of these vehicles. During the past decade, GM has made significant progress on both fronts across our global fleet.
Through more efficient aerodynamic design and the combining of materials, such as high-strength steel, carbon fiber and aluminum, GM is realizing weight reductions across its global product portfolio. The consumer benefits are clear. Mass reduction on the order of 10 percent translates into fuel efficiency gains of approximately 5 percent. These advancements can be seen in some of our best-selling models:
- The Opel Astra five-door model is up to 441 pounds lighter.
- The 2016 Chevrolet Camaro has shed almost 400 pounds and improved fuel efficiency by 7 percent, thanks to an investment of 9 million hours of computer-aided engineering time to make the chassis lighter.
- The 2016 Chevrolet Cruze, our top-selling global model available in 40 markets, is nearly 250 pounds lighter and gets an estimated 40 mpg on the highway with automatic transmission.
- The 2016 Chevrolet Malibu has shed nearly 300 pounds and improved fuel efficiency by 5 percent through the use of aluminum in body structure and lighter-mass engines, seats and instrument panel.
In 2015 alone, these and other models with more efficient designs and lighter-weight materials helped GM eliminate $2 billion in material costs. Mass reduction is being achieved not only through lighter material inputs, but also through new proprietary and patented manufacturing techniques, such as aluminum spot welding technology, self-piercing rivets, flow drill screws, friction welding and advanced adhesives. In 2015, we announced a breakthrough in resistance spot-welding technology that allows us to weld aluminum to steel – an industry first that will be introduced in assembly plants this year.
We continue to invest in technologies that push the limits of ICE efficiency, because gasoline will likely remain the primary fuel in most of the world for the near future.
We employ a suite of technologies, including downsizing, turbocharging, “stop-start” technology, direct injection, variable valve timing and cylinder deactivation, in improving the thermodynamic efficiency of gasoline engines. These technologies are leading to a portfolio of GM engines that are considerably smaller, cleaner and more efficient than in the past, while maximizing usable power and performance characteristics important to our customers.
We began rolling out a new technologically advanced engine family in model year 2015 that streamlines and simplifies our global powertrain portfolio. This enables a broad deployment across a variety of global markets and price points. Designed to achieve segment-leading efficiency, these new engines are powering many of our highest-volume small cars and compact crossovers, including the next-generation Chevrolet Cruze, specifically tailored for China. We are building more than 2.5 million of these engines around the world, introducing them across five GM brands and 27 models cumulatively by the 2017 model year. At that time, the result will be a GM fleet that sets a new performance level in fuel economy and carbon emissions around the globe while reducing overall material usage, costs, and development time and expenses compared with the previous generation of engines.