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Oracle of Delphi

GM cars to get smaller engines with turbos

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Rick Kranz

Automotive News

January 28, 2008 - 12:01 am ET

DETROIT — Never mind fuel cells, plug-ins or diesels. To achieve quick improvements in fuel economy, General Motors is adopting an off-the-shelf technology: small engines with turbochargers.

Next year GM will introduce a turbocharged 1.4-liter gasoline engine for small U.S. cars. The Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn Astra are candidates for the engine, which is available without a turbocharger in the European Opel Astra.

GM engineering chief Jim Queen confirmed the company's plans to use the powertrain and said it could be used in mid-sized vehicles, too.

"You're going to see turbocharged four-cylinders in vehicles that no one could have ever imagined that they would be in," he said.

Queen did not indicate where the engines would be made or predict their fuel economy. The 2008 Cobalt with its 2.2-liter engine gets 33 mpg highway and 24 city.

Automakers find turbochargers a cost-effective way to improve fuel economy. This month Ford Motor Co. announced its EcoBoost system, a turbocharged gasoline engine with direct injection.

Next year EcoBoost will debut on the Lincoln MKS sedan. By 2012, Ford expects to have as many as 500,000 EcoBoost vehicles on the road in North America.

The 1.4-liter turbocharged engine is small by U.S. standards.

With its 1.6-liter powertrain, the Korean-built Chevrolet Aveo currently has the smallest GM engine sold in the United States. The Saturn Astra has a 1.8-liter engine.

Turbochargers could cost GM $200 to $450 per vehicle depending on the system's sophistication, said Jim Hall, director of industry analysis at 2953 Analytics in suburban Detroit.

Edited by Pontiac Custom-S

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