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trevormac98

Tom Stephens, VP, GM Powertrain, and Gas Mileage

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GM Promises to Stay in Front of Power and Fuel Economy auto123.com By Alex Law Aug. 31, 2005 In terms of offering consumers the most fuel-efficient models and the most high-performance models, it turns out that no company comes close to General Motors. It further turns out that this is not an accident, nor a temporary situation, nor a mantel (or a pair of mantels) that GM has any intention of giving up. So says Tom Stephens, who should know and be listened to on this point. Stephen is after all GM Powertrain's group vice-president (a capital "S" serious job inside the world's largest car company), and he is the man most responsible for developing GM's lead in these two critical areas, and the firebrand in charge of expanding the company's lead in both aspects. You would appreciate the firebrand designation much more vividly if you'd been sitting in the audience of reporters with me nearly 20 years ago in Greenbrier, West Virginia, when the red-headed and laser-eyed manager of the Livonia engine factory got up to give a speech that I can still paraphrase by heart. "I believe in V-8 power, brothers and sisters, and so should you." Hallelujah, Brother Tom, we cried in response, since Stephens had shown us the light. So here he is now, long removed from Livonia and sitting at the controls of the world's biggest and most far-reaching powertrain development program, and anxious as ever to rev the engine on GM's position in the market. Stephens wants you to know that GM is already the leading car company in the U.S. when it comes to making fuel efficient vehicles, and he backs this up with a chart that shows that GM currently sells 20 models that get more than 30 mpg highway fuel economy, versus VW with 14, DaimlerChrysler with 13, Toyota with 12, Ford with 10, BMW and Hyundai with seven, Honda with six, Subaru and Suzuki with five, and Nissan with two. The chart would have slightly different numbers in Canada, by the way, but GM will still be far in the lead. It's interesting to note that GM has as many high-mileage cars as Toyota, Honda and Nissan combined, which puts paid to another automotive myth. At the same time, notes Brother Tom, GM also produces lots of vehicles (that means trucks and SUVs as well as cars) with tremendous acceleration standards. When it comes to going from 0 to 96.5 kmh (or 60 mph), GM sells seven vehicles that can do it in under eight seconds, six vehicles in under seven seconds, four vehicles in under six seconds, five vehicles in under five seconds, and one that needs less than four seconds. Brother Tom knows how important it is for GM to appeal to members of The Church of Holy Crap This Thing Is Quick, but he's also concerned about the people who worship at the alter of Our Lady of Perpetual Mileage. So Stephens wants us all to know that GM is working on a bunch of "advanced powertrain technologies it is developing to both reduce emissions and improve the efficiency and performance of its internal combustion engines, automatic transmissions, and hybrid systems." In the near term (i.e. 2006), the company will have new variants in the Gen IV small-block V-8 engine family, six-speed automatic transmissions, and the hybrid system for the 2007 Saturn VUE Green Line. These developments are just a suggestion of what's to come, says Stephens, as GM plans to roll out 50 new, more efficient and more powerful engines and transmissions by the end of the decade. GM's overall goal, says Stephen, is "to reduce emissions and improve fuel economy as the company marches toward the long-term goal of producing hydrogen fuel-cell-powered vehicles to remove the vehicle from the environmental debate." But we're maybe a decade or more away from governments not having the auto industry to kick around any more, so Stephens and GM and cranking away on improving the bridge technology. One of the things that excites Stephens the most is something called Homogenous Charge Compression Ignition (HCCI), which is an ultra-advanced combustion system and might be workable in a couple of years. HCCI is a combustion technology that uses compression ignition rather than spark ignition to initiate the combustion process, and that means higher efficiency and lower NOx emissions compared to a normal spark-ignition or diesel engine. "The technologies we are developing today -- gasoline direct injection, Displacement On Demand, variable valve actuation and variable valve timing -- all deliver incremental improvements to engine efficiency," says Stephens. "But more importantly, they are the building blocks to mass-producing engines that can operate with advanced combustion systems like HCCI." Short-term, says Stephens, "multiple variants of the new small-block engines feature Displacement On Demand, as well as variable valve timing (VVT). Displacement On Demand seamlessly alternates the engine between eight- and four-cylinder operation, improving engine efficiency by as much as 12 percent in some vehicles." Variable valve timing optimizes engine performance by continuously adjusting intake and exhaust valve timing in relation to the crankshaft. The introduction of variable valve timing in these engines is the industry's first application of VVT on a mass-produced V-8 overhead valve engine. Complete details of the new engine variants will be available in mid-September, by the way. In addition to improving engine efficiency, GM is launching a broad portfolio of advanced six-speed automatic transmissions to increase overall powertrain performance. "During the next five years, GM will launch 10 new automatic six-speed transmission variants," says Stephens. "In fact, by 2010, GM will be producing more than three million six-speed transmissions per year." GM six-speed automatic transmissions will use a wide gear ratio spread to improve both performance and fuel economy over traditional four-speed automatics, Stephens notes, in an effort to please the congregations of what traditionally are disparate places of worship. GM will launch seven of the six-speed automatic variants in North America and Europe. In addition to improving the efficiency of conventional engines and transmissions, GM is also in the midst of rolling out three hybrid powertrain systems. "The company plans to integrate the systems in up to 12 vehicle models," says Stephens, "providing consumers a broad portfolio of hybrid systems that will vary in fuel economy savings and cost." "Through the last 30 years in North America, we've improved our gasoline car fuel economy by as much as 130 percent and our gasoline truck fuel economy by as much as 75 percent," says Stephens. "We'll continue this trend of significant improvements by applying these and other engine and transmission technologies around the globe." Say Amen, somebody. My Take: Everyone pass this out. Mass emails, whatever. Help with our gas woes.
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Sounds like mid-September should give us a lot of new info about future GM powertrains. I'm hoping that means they're getting rid of some of the engines in the lineup that need replacing, and are also going to up the capacity for the HF V6s.
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For the press Toyota gets praising the phony virues of it's hybrid system the TRUTH is more fuel will be saved by DOD, E85 and VVT technology. That is not to say that hybrid tech will never surpass the current sad state it is in now but to consider it the magic solution is a farce. If there is one benefit to the recent spike in fuel prices it will encourage and create demand for alternative energy utiliaztion. In other words, ethanol is now cost competitve. In my opininion I would always take an ethanol powered vehicle over any current hybrid. The tech works and it not a maintenance disaster like the Prius down the road.
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GM should advertise the hell out of their fuel-efficiency now. I noticed driving by a chevy dealership that they moved all the cobalts, aveos, and HHRs up to the front of the lot and moved the Trucks far to the back. Good idea.
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For the press Toyota gets praising the phony virues of it's hybrid system the TRUTH is more fuel will be saved by DOD, E85 and VVT technology.

That is not to say that hybrid tech will never surpass the current sad state it is in now but to consider it the magic solution is a farce.

If there is one benefit to the recent spike in fuel prices it will encourage and create demand for alternative energy utiliaztion.

In other words, ethanol is now cost competitve. In my opininion I would always take an ethanol powered vehicle over any current hybrid. The tech works and it not a maintenance disaster like the Prius down the road.

[post="8517"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


ethanol is a tax dump and is enormously subsidized. Its nice to have it as an alternative fuel, but it costs our taxpayers way too much to subsidize its production.
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ethanol is a tax dump and is enormously subsidized.  Its nice to have it as an alternative fuel, but it costs our taxpayers way too much to subsidize its production.

[post="8524"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


Instead we should pay to not produce?
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With the events of this week they'd better have fuel economy as their #1 priority but they don't. This is just hype. If the current gas prices hold up for a few months and their is a real consumer shift towards fuel efficient vehicles Toyota and Honda are going to be the big winners. Toyota has many more Hybrids coming and Honda has a new Civic that gets even better economy than the current one. All GM has are redesigned gas guzzlers coming that get 10% better economy. Sad
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that was a good read, its always nice to have a little pep rally. I think GM has lots of R&D going on in power development and will get something more solid to market than the rest when the time comes and not before its ready. Its still comical though, the hybrids, we were in 40 mpg with a Rabbit diesel 2 decades ago, what ass do these people have their heads stuck up ? It must be a tight one. Still at todays standards its a bit rediculous to be spending 3-4 dollars to go 40 miles but I guess its better than 20-26 miles.
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Am I the only one that thinks GM is barking up the wrong tree with this HCCI ignition technology? If it can be made to work reliably for 300,000 miles they would dominate the market, but aren't they going to have excessive heat and power issues to deal with? They would almost have to reinvent the internal combustion engine as we know it.

[post="8640"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]

Its the next step for the IC engine. I believe it is supposed to make more power with less emissions. The problems they are having are with the timing of combustion, which they will need a solution for to ever get this technology anywhere.
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not to rant, but how many vehicles does GM have over 20 mpg... I bet its more then a lot of companys... :angry: its a stupid comparasin... lets go bigger, lets hear how many trucks are over 25 mpg... 0... GM is not walking on water and neither is Toyota, but someone ought to be in front of the croud and GM isnt doing it
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GM should be pushing diesels for NA in a big way. Superior gas mileage with more torque than a gas engine. What exactly is the hesitation there? You get more bang for your buck than a hybrid and GM already has the engines in Europe. Just build them over here in limited numbers to at least see what the demand would be or ship them over from Europe. There's an entire generation of people who weren't around, or don't remember, GM's diesel disaster of the early 80's. Imagine if GM sold the Cobalt with the Opel diesel engine that gets around 45 mpg. Or if they put that engine in the malibu or even the g6. Sales would spike solely because of the superior gas mileage they would offer. GM has an advantage over the competition here and they're not using it. They'll probably wait until Toyota puts a hybrid diesel in everything before they do anything.
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I believe the reason GM has not come out with diesel yet is because they are still harnessing the technology. The emissions standards in the US are a lot tougher than in other nations. GM is stil probably trying to reduce the amount of sulfur that comes out in the emissions. After they do that, we will probably see diesel engines being offered.
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Its the next step for the IC engine. I believe it is supposed to make more power with less emissions.
The problems they are having are with the timing of combustion, which they will need a solution for to ever get this technology anywhere.


The problem with this technique, as I understand it, is consistant quality of the fuel.
Whether you know it or not, gasoline varies considerably in its' combustion
parameters, from day to day! Even gas from the same tank or batch will vary
considerably in some of its' properties. This is because it is constantly changing as it ages, is mixed with other batches of fuel, and as it is made!

If we can get the West Coast politicians to get their brains out of the asses, and allow the new low-sulphur diesel fuels in, we could enjoy the benefits of state-of-the-art diesel technology NOW, as Europe does!

Alternate fuels - - - - has anybody given any thought as to how you would distribute and dispense alternate fuels?
The last estimates that I saw claimed an infrastructure cost of 37 Billion, (that's with a "B"), just to establish a distribution network of an alternate fuel.
Who is going to pay for that? ----- and how long will it take to build it? :huh:
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[quote name='wildmanjoe' date='Sep 2 2005, 06:03 PM']
The trouble with ethanol is that is is very hard on the rubber parts of the fuel system. I would give it a few more years so the OEMs can work all the bugs out.
quote]

The truth is, they have been using ethanol as the major fuel for years down in Brasil, and all the manufacturers know what different materials need to be used to be compatible.

The problems occur with mixture, by the consumer, of the two fuel types.
That's what causes the operating problems!
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I believe the reason GM has not come out with diesel yet is because they are still harnessing the technology.  The emissions standards in the US are a lot tougher than in other nations.  GM is stil probably trying to reduce the amount of sulfur that comes out in the emissions.  After they do that, we will probably see diesel engines being offered.


Your chemistry is a little off there trevormac!

The sulphur is in the fuel, and contributes to more nitrous oxides in the emissions.
It has already been passed that the fuel industry in this country must refine the
diesel fuel to the same, low-sulphur content as is now required in Europe, but not until 2006!
And even then, the California Air Resources Board won't let a diesel vehicle be registered in CA., because they know better! Know what I don't know, but
because the henney-pennys in other states bleat to the turn of CA, Its' availability
will be spotty.
What we should be doing is using the best crude oil in the world, that which is coming down the Alaskan pipeline, instead of selling it to Japan! Let Japan buy
the high-sulphur crude from the capped=off California wells, and let them pay the
extra $$$ to remove the sulphur!
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In other words, ethanol is now cost competitve. In my opininion I would always take an ethanol powered vehicle over any current hybrid. The tech works and it not a maintenance disaster like the Prius down the road.


I'll second that.
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Standard vehicle powertrains can run with no more than about 15% ethanol becayse of the damage to gaskets etc.. As rkmdogs says, they know how to solve that problem and flex-fuel vehicles are becoming more common. Most of GM's new engines in Brazil will run on any mixture of ethanol and gasoline, and some are designed for gasoline, ethanol and CNG. Flexfuel vehicles are also taking off in some European markets. Germany and Italy go for CNG (30% of all CNG vehicles in Germany are Opel Zafiras), Sweden for ethanol. GM already offers most large truck models with an E85 version of the 5.3 L V8 in North America, the Impala and Monte Carlo are just the first to specify an E85 version as standard (in the US). E85 is more expensive and less energy efficient to produce than gasoline, primarily because farmers are paid to not grow feed stock. Despite a recent study production is not a net energy consumer however. Most feed stock is much more energy-dense (high-calorie grains and sugar-cane and not grass), and power often comes from associated biological wastes.
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