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GM chases economy crown

Fuel sipper: GM has hinted that the Cheverolet Spark will be more fuel-efficient than the Smart ForTwo.

GM plan reveals major model revamp in switch to fuel misers

18 Feb 2009

GENERAL Motors has revealed plans to launch a car more fuel-efficient than any non-hybrid vehicle currently on sale in the US, throwing down the gauntlet to the new wave of economical city cars such as the Toyota iQ and Volkswagen Up.

The former world number-one is also planning to more than double the number of hybrid models it offers in the US and raise its average car fleet economy to 6.3L/100km by 2012.

The struggling US giant outlined the aggressive remodeling of its product lineup in its latest submission to the US treasury department in support of its request for billions of dollars more in loans and loan guarantees.

The product plan shows GM is not relying solely on the Volt plug-in electric hybrid to drag it out of the financial mire.

“GM will substantially change its product mix over the next four years and launch predominantly high-mileage, energy efficient cars and crossover vehicles,” GM said in its submission to US Treasury.

“The plan includes introducing the market’s smallest four-passenger vehicle, achieving higher fuel economy than the two-passenger Smart Fortwo, the most fuel efficient non-hybrid vehicle in the US today.” The petrol Fortwo consumes 4.9L/100km, while the diesel model sips 4.4L/100km.

GM may be referring to the 1.0-litre Chevrolet Spark, a five-door mini car set to be unveiled at the Geneva motor show in March.

The Spark is expected to be sold in every major GM market, from the US and Europe to China.

137 center image Left: GM's hybrid Saturn Vue, Chev Silverado and GMC Sierra.

GM Holden chairman and chief executive Mark Reuss expressed strong interest in the Spark when he attended the Detroit show in January.

“The Korean-based small cars that we are developing are world-class cars, so – absolutely – we are very interested in having them for Australia,” Mr Reuss told GoAuto.

In its submission to the US treasury, GM also outlined a continuing strong effort in hybrid models, which will increase from six in 2009 to 15 by 2012.

This year, GM will launch the Saturn Vue Two-Mode hybrid, the Chevrolet Silverado hybrid and the GMC Sierra hybrid.

The company also has seen the benefits of turbo-charging, which will allow smaller engines across the range.

“Further shifts to smaller displacement (petrol) engines will occur – eight-cylinder engines are replaced by six-cylinder engines, six-cylinder engines are replaced by four-cylinder engines.

“More extensive use of turbo-charging is enabling the shift to smaller displacement engines, providing better fuel economy with normal operations but offering power in reserve for emergency situations.” There will be a 42 per cent increase in four-cylinder engines across the range and, by 2012, six-speed automatic transmissions will increase 400 per cent to 90 per cent of total automatic sales.

Over the next three years, GM will spend $US2.9 billion ($A4.57b) on alternative fuel and new propulsion technologies.

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