Speaking at an energy conference in Houston, Texas, General Motors CEO
Dan Akerson stated that the automaker is on a mission to reduce the curb weight of its new vehicles 15 percent by the 2016 model year as part of a broader overall efficiency plan intended to meet the upcoming 54.5 mpg EPA fuel-economy standard. According to Akerson, this across-the-board mass reduction effort will spearhead a host of other wide-ranging programs all tasked with the same end goal.

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To facilitate its accelerated weight loss plan, Akerson said that GM has begun turning to more advanced materials, including Nano steels and carbon fiber composites as well as increasing its use of more conventional alloys like aluminum and magnesium. The automaker also plans to expand the use of cleaner and more efficient resistance spot welding on aluminum structural elements. Akerson cited figures that indicated a 10 percent reduction in weight would result in about a 6.5 percent reduction in fuel use.

In addition to cutting weight, GM will redouble its efforts to more aggressively exploit the mileage-making and CO2-reducing potential of various powertain technologies. For traditional gasoline engines it will come from broader application of turbocharging, direct injection, variable valve timing and cylinder deactivation but alternatives like clean diesel and electric or extended-range electric vehicles will also figure prominently in the future product mix. Akerson also voiced strong support for increasing the use of clean-burning and relatively cheap compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) as a vehicle fuel, particularly in heavy-duty/long-distance fleet applications.


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