GM pulls anti-bicycle ad; Chevy Spark EV, more tech

October 13, 2011 § Leave a comment

More on the Chevy Spark EV; sales in “limited quantities” in “select US and global markets” will start 2013. Feedback from participants in GM’s EV trials in Shanghai (Sail EV), Korea (Cruze EV) and India (Beat EV) will be incorporated. Of interest to more drivers worldwide, however, is GM’s new ‘family’ of compact Ecotec engines: three- and four-cylinders, 1.0-1.5 litres, lightweight and with direct injection, turbocharging and alt-fuel capabilities, to power more than 2million cars a year by the end of the decade. GM’s promising “improved fuel economy, higher quality, better performance and reduced carbon dioxide emissions” over the current range, as well as reduced noise, vibration and harshness (NVH). Production will start around 2015.

Shame, though, that GM promptly undid all its good ‘green’ PR with an incredibly ill-advised and ironic-in-all-the-wrong-ways ad (pictured) pushing discounts for college students – “stop pedalling, start driving” – and special deals on student-friendly, fuel-efficient models such as, errr, the huge  GMC Sierra pick-up truck. True colours? Still, it has at least had the good grace to pull the ad, after complaints and international ridicule.

  • A market’s emerging for retrofit hybrid systems – 500,000 a year in the US by 2020, says Protean Electric, which, yes, makes such products. Protean’s in-wheel electric-drive tech for light-duty vehicles can improve fuel economy by up to 30%, the company claims, noting that the cost of such a conversion can be recouped over a fleet’s operating cycle.
  • Don’t forget the fuel cells: over 1million hydrogen fuel cell vehicles a year will be sold by 2020, predicts Pike Research. Over half of these are expected to go to the Asia-Pacific region 2015-2020, but later, the quickest market growth will be seen in western Europe, if the necessary refuelling infrastructure is developed. Many early fuel cell models will be transit buses, which are well-suited to the tech. Pike names China, Japan, Germany and Scandinavia as key fuel cell-friendly countries, as well as cities including Seoul and New York.
  • No shortage of split-cycle engine concepts out there; the Israeli-developed TourEngine, presented at a conference in Detroit this week, is claimed to offer greater thermal efficiency. It’s a split-cycle, opposed-cylinder unit, with separated intake/compression and expansion/exhaust cycles, but differs from engines such as the Scuderi split-cycle in that its opposing cylinders are directly linked with a single crossover valve. Simulations are showing efficiency gains of up to 33%; full details (and diagrams) at Green Car Congress.
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