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GM Frankfurt Preview

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Eleven World and European Premieres, Extensive Environmental Initiative
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  • New HydroGen4 fuel cell vehicle, Volt electric car
  • More than 700 million euros for new engines and transmissions until 2012
  • Opel/Vauxhall: Electric car concept, ecoFLEX initiative, new Agila
  • Chevrolet: New Aveo generation, distinctively designed HHR
  • Saab: New 9-3 generation with top-of-the-line Turbo X model
  • Cadillac: BLS Wagon, new generation of Cadillac CTS luxury sedan
  • Corvette: More power for Coupé and Cabrio
  • HUMMER: H2 is film star in "Transformers"
In essence, the environmental strategy of General Motors Europe is to reduce CO2 emissions in the short term and introduce new propulsion technologies in the long term. The goal is to offer customers vehicles that can operate on many different energy sources. "The multi-tiered approach includes accelerating the development of electrically powered vehicles, stepping up efforts to replace fossil fuels and increasing the efficiency of gasoline and diesel engines," explains Carl-Peter Forster, GME President. GM Europe will invest 700 million euros in new engines and transmissions in the next five years alone, with the first models already at the IAA. Carl-Peter Forster continues: "Opel's surprise for this year's IAA also symbolizes the versatility of our extensive environmental initiative. A concept car which combines electric propulsion and a turbo diesel engine in a way that is fundamentally different to previous hybrid propulsion designs."

Highlights of General Motors' environmental strategy include two vehicles that are making their European premieres in Frankfurt: the HydroGen4 fuel cell vehicle and the Volt electric car.

GM HydroGen4: Heading toward long-term goal of "Zero Emissions"

The GM HydroGen4 is the European version of the Chevrolet Equinox Fuel Cell. In fall 2007, the first of these fuel cell cars – a global fleet of more than 100 vehicles is planned – will be on the roads in the USA. The HydroGen4's fuel cell stack consists of 440 series-connected cells. The entire system produces an electrical output of up to 93 kW. With help from a 73 kW/100 hp synchronous electric motor, acceleration from zero to 100 km/h takes around 12 seconds. The front-wheel drive vehicle's top speed is around 160 km/h.

GM Volt: Purely electrical propulsion in the mid-term

The GM Volt is a good indication of what low-emission mobility could look like in the mid-term. This concept vehicle is based on General Motors' electric vehicle architecture E-Flex and is always electrically powered. A second engine is only on board to produce additional energy and thereby extend the operating range.

The E-Flex strategy is based on combining various propulsion systems in the same vehicle architecture, depending on what energy source is readily available in the driver's area. The concept has already been presented in two further versions: at the Detroit Motor Show in January 2007, it debuted with a 1.0-liter, three-cylinder turbo gasoline engine designed for operation with gasoline or E85, a mixture of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. And at the Shanghai Motor Show in April 2007, GM presented the electric concept car with hydrogen fuel cell propulsion.

Opel at the IAA: ecoFLEX initiative and new Agila

  • ecoFLEX versions spotlight new environmental strategy
  • World premiere in Frankfurt: New Opel Agila
  • Model year 2008: Vectra and Signum greatly enhanced
Part of Opel's environmental strategy includes the introduction of low-emission ecoFLEX versions in Opel/Vauxhall's high-volume model lines. These cars combine economy and driving fun with low consumption and reduced CO2 emissions. The premiere model in the Opel/Vauxhall ecoFLEX range is a Corsa 1.3 CDTI, which produces just 119 g/CO2 per kilometer. The Corsa ecoFLEX debuts at the IAA 2007 and is available from 2008.

Natural gas is another alternative fuel. Opel currently offers two models ex works with this especially environmentally friendly and economical form of propulsion: the Zafira CNG and Combo CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) consume just 5.0/4.9 kg of natural gas per 100 km (138/133 g CO2/km respectively). The seven-seat Zafira CNG emits just under 20 g CO2 per kilometer and seat.

New Agila: Friendly, dynamic, flexible

  • Format: Five doors, five fully fledged seats
  • Function: Versatile thanks to practical details
  • Design: Balanced proportions, distinctive lines
  • Powertrain: Two gasoline engines, one turbo-diesel, automatic transmission
With five doors and five seats, the new Opel Agila is not only as practical as its predecessor, which sold around 440,000 units across Europe, but is now also much more dynamically designed. The smallest Opel makes its market debut in spring 2008 and boasts Opel-typical balanced proportions, soft curves and a distinctive side graphic. Passengers still sit high and upright, but the roofline has been dynamically lowered and now blends into a smooth arc toward the rear. This helps create the Agila's aerodynamic drag coefficient of 0.35 – a relatively low figure for a vehicle of this size. The urban car is now 20 centimeters longer, six centimeters wider, but seven centimeters lower than its predecessor.

The entry-level engine is an almost one-liter, four-valve, three-cylinder unit that produces 48 kW/65 hp. The 1.2-liter four-cylinder unit produces 63 kW/86 hp and is available with an automatic transmission for the first time. The most economical engine in the Agila range is the 1.3-liter common-rail turbo-diesel, which produces 55 kW/75 hp.

Model year 2008: Greater selection and more extensive equipment

Opel goes into model year 2008 with a lot of innovations and presents a fresh, cutting-edge product portfolio. The most important enhancements include the considerably higher level of equipment for the Vectra, Vectra station wagon and Signum. The 206 kW/280 hp top performers Vectra OPC and Vectra station wagon OPC are available with a six-speed automatic transmission for the first time. In the Corsa range, the 110 kW/150 hp Corsa GSi fills the gap between the Corsa Sport and the Corsa OPC.

Other additions include:

  • Corsa 1.3 CDTI now also with Easytronic transmission
  • Antara 2.0 CDTI with 127 hp and diesel particulate filter
  • New special edition Astra TwinTop model "Endless Summer"
  • New light alloy wheels, more versatile infotainment systems, fresh colors

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Wonder if the new Agila has any chance in the US. It's about 8" shorter than the old xB, practical, economical, and fairly stylish.

I've also always wondered how flexible the Europeans are with powertrain configurations and grade levels. The Astra has 11 trim levels and 12 powertrains, all of them 4-cylinders.

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