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Cruze Eco claims high mpg, low price

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Cruze Eco claims high mpg, low price

Dave Guilford

Automotive News -- April 12, 2010 - 12:01 am ET

NEW YORK -- Chevrolet will pitch its Cruze Eco variant as a gasoline-powered car that delivers hybrid-like fuel economy without a hybrid's hefty price tag, says Chuck Russell, Chevrolet's vehicle line director.

General Motors Co. estimates the Cruze Eco's highway fuel economy at 40 mpg. EPA ratings for the Eco and the standard Cruze compact are not yet available.

Russell said the Eco will be more expensive than the base Cruze, but the premium will be nowhere near as high as the cost of hybrid technology.

"Will we charge for the benefit? Yes. Will it be thousands? No," he told Automotive News at the New York auto show. "In fact, it will be in the hundreds."

By contrast, the Ford Fusion Hybrid has a base price of $27,995 including shipping, a bump of $8,000 over the base Fusion. Hybrid models often have more standard equipment than base models.

Russell said GM put some pricey equipment on the Eco to reduce weight. For instance, the Eco has 17-inch forged aluminum wheels, a feature usually found on sporty models, he said.

"We felt strongly that it needed to be on this vehicle because the forged aluminum wheels save over 10 kilograms," (2 pounds) Russell said.

The version shown at the New York show had a six-speed manual transmission teamed with a 1.4-liter turbocharged engine with variable valve timing. Russell said an automatic transmission also will be offered.

The Cruze will go on sale in the third quarter, and the Eco will follow later in the year. Russell said the base Cruze will be priced competitively with compact leaders Toyota Corolla and Honda Civic. The Corolla's base price, including shipping, if $16,200; the Civic's is $16,155.

Read more: http://www.autonews.com/article/20100412/RETAIL03/304129975/1430#ixzz0ktZQH79S

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