Friday, August 14, 2009

Mopar® HEMI® Challenge Race Series to Commence at NHRA U.S. Nationals

1969 Dodge Dart Swinger (front and rear sidema...Image via Wikipedia

Mopar®, Chrysler Group LLC’s Parts division, has announced that the world’s fastest super stockers will once again face off during the 2009 season. The ground-pounding 800 horsepower HEMI®-powered 1968 Dodge Darts and Plymouth Barracudas continue their 40-year domination of NHRA's top stock class beginning this Labor Day Weekend in Indianapolis.

The three-event 2009 Mopar HEMI® Challenge Race Series schedule will blast off at the prestigious Mac Tools U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, Ind., Sept. 2–7.

The HEMI Challenge series will then head to the JEGS Northern SPORTSnationals in Columbus, Ohio, on Sept. 25–27. The third and final 2009 Challenge event will be on October 22–25 at the Dutch Classic at Maple Grove Raceway in Reading, Pa.

The U.S. Nationals victor will take home a $10,000 winner’s purse. The winners of the other two events will haul in $5,000 paydays. Each HEMI Challenge race is a stand-alone event.

An impressive company of Super Stock/A-HEMI (SS/AH) pilots are scheduled to make the trek to Indy. Expected drivers and teams include 2008 HEMI Challenge series champion Charlie Westcott Jr. and his father, Charlie Westcott Sr., who was runner-up in the '08 standings. The Westcotts both compete in 1968 Plymouth Barracudas. Third-place series finisher Jim Pancake will drive his Dodge Dart and fourth-place series finisher John Raines will also compete. Jim Daniels, winner of the final 2008 Mopar HEMI Challenge event at Maple Grove Raceway in Pennsylvania, will race in his Dodge Dart.

Westcott Jr., plans to debut a newly-built 1968 Plymouth Barracuda this year. His previous car, the 1968 "Warfish" Barracuda, which dominated the series in 2008, is scheduled to be retired. Other drivers include Bucky Hess, Larry Woo, Joe Teuton Jr., Rick Houser, Darrell Marvel, and Fred Henson.

"The Mopar HEMI Challenge illustrates the amazing dedication of the grassroots racers who are the core of the series," said Jim Sassorossi, Director—Mopar Global Parts Sales and Marketing, Chrysler Group LLC. "The dedicated racers who compete in the Mopar HEMI Challenge buy parts from a Dodge, Chrysler or Jeep® dealership and pour money, time and sweat into their Mopar HEMI-powered race cars. They are great examples of the passion that exists in the drag racing community for the Mopar brand."

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Ford Motor CompanyImage via Wikipedia

Ford, the No. 2 best-selling new vehicle brand in Europe, increased its market share for the seventh consecutive time last month, resulting in the company’s best July and year-to-date market share performance since 1999.

Ford of Europe had 9 percent market share in its main 19 European markets, up 0.6 percentage points from July 2008. Ford’s share for the first seven months of 2009 was 9.1 percent, an increase of 0.5 percentage points from the same period a year ago.

In total, Ford sold 125,200 new vehicles in its main 19 European markets in July, up 5 percent, making it the second month in a row this year that Ford has posted a sales increase from the prior year period. Ford’s 5 percent volume increase contrasts to a 1.5 percent industry decline in the same month.

“As we are moving into the second half of the year, we are encouraged to see Ford at a 10-year high market share for July and, as a result of this, firmly established as Europe's second best-selling new vehicle brand in Europe,” said Ingvar Sviggum, Ford of Europe’s vice president, Marketing, Sales and Service.

The sales success was driven by strong customer demand for the latest Ford products across the line-up, including the Fiesta, new Ka, and best-selling Focus. The company’s product portfolio allowed it to improve market share in 13 of its main 19 European markets. The improving European results follows news of positive sales performance in other key Ford markets around the world in July, including China, the U.S. and Canada.

In the first seven months of 2009, Ford of Europe registered 871,400 vehicles in its 19 main markets, down 7.3 percent over the same period in 2008. This compares with a total industry decline of 12.2 percent in that period.

“We're also pleased to have increased sales volume for the second consecutive month, while the industry is still declining,” said Sviggum. “The industry figures show, however, that despite the positive impact of various national vehicle scrappage schemes, the overall trend is still negative and the underlying market weak.”

Sviggum added: “We strongly believe that these incentive schemes should continue for as long as practically possible, and then be phased out in an orderly manner to avoid any dramatic reduction in market demand that could damage the still fragile improvement we have seen in recent months.”

July Market and Model Sales Highlights:

  • Ford was market leader in the U.K., Ireland and Hungary; in Hungary, share was at 17.8, up by 7.8 ppts. on the same period 2008, the highest share since 1994.
  • Ford’s sales volume in Germany increased by 45 percent (while industry grew 24 percent) in July, and the company had its highest monthly share there since June 2004.
  • Similarly, Ford Austria’s July sales were up by 45 percent, to a record high for the month of July since 1994.
  • Ford continues to be the leading imported brand in Italy, with volume up by 35 percent, despite the Italian industry being up by only 3 percent in July.
  • Sixty-one percent of Ford passenger cars sold went to retail customers in the Euro 19 markets, up from 47 percent in July 2008.
  • Ford was among the three best-selling brands in 13 of 19 European markets.


  • Ford of Europe’s three top-selling vehicles (19 main markets) were the Fiesta (39,900), the Focus (28,700), and new Ka (10,500).
  • In Germany, the Fiesta became segment leader in July, the first time since the vehicle’s market entry there in October 2008.
  • In the U.K., where Fiesta sales were up by over 26 percent vs. the same month 2008, Fiesta remained the industry’s best-selling vehicle.
  • In June, Fiesta was both Europe's second best-selling car and the leader in the small car segment.
  • In July, 39,900 Fiestas were delivered to customers in Europe -- 14,500 units more than the previous Fiesta model sold in July 2008.
  • New Ford Ka continues to be a success in the market despite the economic downturn. Ford sold 10,500 units in July (up 7,500 on July last year).
  • Ford Focus remained No. 2 best-selling vehicle across the industry in the U.K., behind the Fiesta.
  • The Ford C-MAX was the best-selling foreign vehicle in its segment in France.
  • Transit had its best July performance since 2003 (Euro 19 markets).

July Year-To-Date Market and Model Highlights

  • Market leader in the U.K., Ireland and Hungary.
  • Italy (share up by 2.0 ppts. to 9.7 percent) and the UK (up by 1.5 ppts. to 17.9 percent share) had the highest share gains in the five largest markets in the first seven months of 2009.
  • Year-to-date sales volume increased by 37 percent in Germany (vs. an increase of 21.3 percent for the industry).
  • Ford was among the three best-selling brands in 12 of its Euro19 markets.


  • The three best-selling vehicles in the first seven months of 2009 were the newFiesta (277,700), Focus (183,600) and Transit (70,300).
  • In the first seven months of 2009, Fiesta sales were up 75,000 over the sameperiod in 2008. Approximately 340,000 Fiestas have been sold since the car was launched last autumn. Seventy-four percent of all Fiestas sold year-to-date were to retail customers (Euro19 markets).
  • 62,300 Ford Ka vehicles were delivered to Ford customers this year. Eighty percent of all Ka sales (Euro 19 markets) year-to-date were to retail customers.
  • The Ford C-MAX was leading its segment in Italy, as was the Focus Wagon.
  • Ford S-MAX, Focus and Mondeo were among the top three sellers in their segments in Spain for the first seven months of 2009.
  • Kuga saw highest sales growth in the compact SUV segment year-to-date in Spain.
  • Focus was best-selling industry vehicle in the first seven months in Hungary in 2009.
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FR500C in KONI Challenge Series competitionImage via Wikipedia

On a hot, humid Friday afternoon, Bob Tasca III and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Shelby Mustang team topped the charts in the opening qualifying sessions.

In his second provisional qualifying effort of the year, his first coming at Gainesville, Tasca and the team dominated the race track.

After watching several Funny Cars before him smoke the tires, Tasca knew he had a challenge in front of him. He mastered the new pavement by posting 4.363 second run at 274.16 miles per hour.

“We were the only team out of 19 that went wire-to-wire in the first round,” said Tasca. “It was a great run. We’ll do even better tomorrow because the conditions will improve. We can’t be any better than we are right now.”

After some fine-tuning by crew chief Chris Cunningham, Tasca wowed the Brainerd crowd for the second time today with a 4.214 second pass at 282.01 miles per hour.

“What a difference a year makes,” said Tasca. “To be in this position and to have a hot rod that is doing exactly what we want. When our Mustang is responding and is consistent, it makes me a better race car driver and it puts the team in a position to win. To have two back-to-back runs like that, my hat is off to the guys, Chris Cunningham and Marc Denner for making a remarkable call today.”

With only a few races remaining before the Countdown to One begins, Tasca gains more confidence every time he climbs into the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Shelby Mustang.

“We’re hitting our stride at the right time,” he said. “We’ve got a long way to go with this championship, but if we can perform well in Brainerd, we will solidify our position in the championship hunt.”

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400,000th China-Made Ford Focus Rolls off the Line

WAYNE, MI - OCTOBER 15:  Ford Motor Company wo...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Changan Ford Mazda Automobile Co., Ltd. (CFMA), Ford Motor's joint venture in China, celebrated the 400,000th Ford Focus rolling off the line at its manufacturing facility in the southwestern city of Chongqing.

"We're proud to celebrate the production of the 400,000th Ford Focus, which was launched here in China four years ago," said Jeffrey Shen, President of CFMA. "With its outstanding styling and drivability, world-class engineering and safety, Ford Focus is firmly established as a star product in China's highly competitive mid-sized car market. The success of this exciting car reflects Ford's commitment to the Chinese market – to always provide our Chinese customers with products they want and value. "

Ford launched the four-door Ford Focus in China in September 2005, and the five-door model a year later. The model range quickly became one of China's best-sellers. In July, Ford Focus sales exceeded 10,000 units for the fifth consecutive month, helping support the steady growth of Ford brand vehicles produced and sold by CFMA. Through the first seven months of this year, Ford brand vehicle sales were 123,474 units, representing a 21.5% increase over the same period last year.

The 2009 Ford Focus was launched at the end of last year to further entrench its leading position in the segment, with the application of Ford's kinetic design cues, as well as a further refined interior. Both body styles have won acceptance for their stylish looks, great driving dynamics and class-leading quality and safety.

The Ford Focus is one of the world's most awarded cars, having won both the European Car of the Year and North American Car of the Year. In China, the Ford Focus has received more than 90 awards from national motoring media in recognition of its class-leading driving dynamics, precise steering and braking control, distinct design and build quality as well as achieving a C-NCAP five-star score for occupant crash protection.

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Corvette Racing to Introduce Corvette C6.R in GT2 Class at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course

Corvette Racing will open a new chapter with the competition debut of the next-generation Corvette C6.R at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on August 6-8. In anticipation of a single GT class in 2010, Corvette Racing will test and develop the latest Corvette C6.R in the GT2 category in the final five rounds of the 2009 American Le Mans Series. With the upcoming move to a unified GT category, the twin Compuware Corvette C6.R race cars will compete against rivals representing Ferrari, Porsche, BMW, Aston Martin, Jaguar, Viper, Panoz, and Ford.

Based on the Corvette ZR1 supercar, the next-generation Corvette C6.R has even stronger links to the production version of America's performance icon than its predecessors. The GT2 rules require the use of many production-based components, expanding the opportunities for the two-way transfer of technology between the race track and the showroom. The updated Corvette C6.R utilizes the ZR1's body design, aerodynamic package, aluminum frame and chassis structure, steering system, windshield, and other components. The race team has prepared the cars for the rigors of endurance racing with safety and performance modifications as permitted by the GT2 rules.

"One of the many benefits of the Corvette Racing program has been the opportunity to demonstrate the technology transfer between the race car and the production car," said Mark Kent, GM Racing manager. "The global movement toward a single GT class will allow us to compete head-to-head with more marketplace competitors while increasing both the production content of the Corvette C6.R race cars and the relevance of racing to our customers. This is a step that positions Corvette for the future of production-based sports car racing worldwide, and a move that is perfectly aligned with GM's marketing and business objectives in racing."

Previous versions of the Corvette C5-R and C6.R race cars have dominated the GTS and GT1 categories in the last decade, winning 77 races and eight consecutive ALMS championships. The GT1 Corvettes were retired following Corvette Racing's sixth victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 14, 2009.

"In our decade in GT1, our primary focus has been on racing victories and the validation of the Corvette as a world-class sports car," said Tadge Juechter, Corvette chief engineer. "As an authentic way to communicate to knowledgeable customers, nothing beats racing. As a cost-effective means to improve vehicle performance, nothing beats racing. These are the reasons racing is in Corvette's DNA.

"Behind the scenes, the race team and the production car team have grown closer together, finding numerous ways to support each other and to make both cars better," Juechter said. "Most automotive companies give lip service to claims like 'racing improves the breed' or 'race on Sunday, sell on Monday'. For team Corvette, it is a daily reality. It is now impossible to imagine one team without the other."

The upcoming GT regulations required a comprehensive redesign of the Corvette C6.R package. In place of the GT1 Corvette's steel frame, the GT2 version utilizes the production ZR1's hydroformed aluminum frame as the foundation for a fully integrated tubular steel safety cage. The GT1 version's wide, louvered fenders are replaced by production-based ZR1 fenders with wheel flares. In accordance with the aerodynamic regulations, the rear wing is reduced 25 percent in width, the diffuser is a flat panel without fences or strakes, and the splitter extends only as far as its production ZR1 counterpart. Steel brake rotors have replaced the carbon discs used previously, and the wheels are aluminum instead of magnesium. The adjustable steering column and steering rack are sourced from the street Corvette.

"Integrating a steel safety cage that meets GM Racing's stringent standards as well as the strength and durability targets required in racing is a challenge with an aluminum frame," explained Corvette Racing engineering director Doug Louth. "Working in conjunction with the structure and chassis engineers in the Corvette production group, we designed, built and tested numerous examples before we finalized the configuration. We went through a similar process with the production Corvette group on the body design and aero components. It was truly a collaborative effort between the production engineers and the race team."

In the remaining races in 2009, the Corvette race cars will be powered by 6.0-liter GM small-block V8s that are based on the 7.0-liter LS7.R that powered the GT1 version. This reduction in displacement was achieved by shortening the crankshaft stroke from 3.875-inch to 3.32-inch. The diameter of the series-mandated intake air restrictors was decreased from 30.6 mm to 28.6 mm, with a corresponding reduction in engine output from 590 to 470 horsepower. A 5.5-liter production-based GM small-block V8 is currently under development and will be introduced at the start of the 2010 season. The Corvette Racing team is continuing its commitment to green racing with the use of E85R ethanol racing fuel.

While much of the hardware has changed, Corvette Racing's roster of championship-winning drivers remains the same. Johnny O'Connell and Jan Magnussen will share the No. 3 Compuware Corvette C6.R, and Oliver Gavin and Olivier Beretta will drive the No. 4 Compuware Corvette C6. R. They will be joined by Antonio Garcia and Marcel Fassler at Petit Le Mans.

Corvette Racing also has the continued support of its long-time sponsors and technical partners. Compuware is the team's primary sponsor, with Mobil 1 supplying low-friction lubricants and Michelin providing its world-class racing tires. Corvette Racing's sponsors also include XM Satellite Radio, UAW-GM, Genuine Corvette Accessories, Bose, Motorola, PRS Guitars, and BBS.

"Compuware leads the world in application performance solutions, and partnering with Corvette Racing gives us another high-tech, high-performance and high-impact platform for communicating to our customers and prospects," said Compuware Chairman and CEO Peter Karmanos, Jr. "The launch of the Corvette C6.R in GT2 is a great extension to our relationship with General Motors, Chevy and Corvette. We look forward to even more victories in the months ahead.”

The GT2-spec Corvettes were designed, built and tested on a compressed schedule. The program was approved and announced in September 2008, and construction of the first chassis began in early December. The first track test was conducted at Road Atlanta on April 8-9, followed by single-car tests in Elkhart Lake, Wis., and Sebring, Fla.

"The Corvette Racing team had to take on several challenges simultaneously to execute this program," said Doug Fehan, Corvette Racing program manager. "We were preparing for our regular race season with the GT1 cars while designing the GT2 version. The cars were being built and tested in the midst of our preparations for Le Mans. The team was multi-tasking to the extreme, operating on a leaner budget and a faster timeline. It was a monumental effort to have these cars ready for the Mid-Ohio race."

Advanced technology tools enabled Corvette Racing to meet the challenge. "With the short development schedule, we relied on 'virtual' design and computer simulation more than ever before," said team manager Gary Pratt. "We made design, engineering and manufacturing simultaneous processes as much as possible. For example, while the first chassis was being built, we continued to run computer simulations on suspension geometry and refined the aerodynamics using CFD (computational fluid dynamics) because these areas didn't have to be finalized until later in the production timeline. We have developed the capabilities to do finite element analysis and composite fabrication in-house, which has accelerated our design and production cycle.

"We're not running for a championship this year, so we're looking at the upcoming races as preparation for 2010," Pratt said. "Our only testing from this point on will be at the races, and we'll be doing it in the public eye. Certainly we hope to achieve the same level of success that we did in GT1, but the caliber of the competition we will face in GT2 is very high. When we started in GT1 in 1999, it took a while to win; now we have 10 years of experience that should help us to become competitive in a new category. Everyone at Corvette Racing is looking forward to the challenge."

Fehan is confident but cautious about Corvette Racing's prospects in the GT2 category: "In the limited testing we've done so far, we've been very impressed with the car's durability, reliability and performance," he said. "We'll continue to focus on those three factors in the upcoming races. We view the rest of this year as a development cycle, and we believe that our experience as a team in preparation, race strategy, and pit stop execution should allow us to be competitive even if there is a slight performance disparity."

The GT2 version of the Corvette C6.R will make its debut in the Acura Sports Car Challenge at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. The two-hour, 45-minute race is scheduled to start at 3 p.m. EDT on Saturday, August 8. ABC will televise the race tape-delayed at 2:30 p.m. EDT on Sunday, August 9.
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A New GM Kicks Into High Gear at Product and Technology Event

BROWNSTOWN TOWNSHIP, MI - AUGUST 13:  Fritz He...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

A revitalized General Motors reintroduced itself today with an array of all-new cars, crossovers and trucks debuting now through 2011. GM also made a historic announcement: When the Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric vehicle rolls off the assembly line late next year, it will be the first mass-production automobile to achieve triple-digit fuel economy, with an expected 230 mpg in the city, or 25 kilowatt hours per 100 miles.

GM President and CEO Fritz Henderson also confirmed that Cadillac is developing an entry luxury sport sedan to capitalize on the growing market for smaller luxury sedans in the U.S. and globally. The rear- and optional all-wheel drive sedan will compete in the segment below the CTS, delivering outstanding performance and driving dynamics.

At GM’s Design Center and Milford Proving Ground, GM previewed six all-new 2010 vehicles and a glimpse of what is being introduced through the end of 2011:

  • Chevrolet alone is introducing 10 new models, including the 2011 Chevrolet Volt
  • Buick and GMC are adding 10 new entries, including a Buick plug-in hybrid compact crossover in 2011
  • Cadillac is introducing five new models through 2011

Henderson also announced that as part of GM’s commitment to get closer to consumers, GM will use its FastLane blog to gather product research from both fans and critics. One pilot initiative, “The Lab,” will involve GM’s Advanced Design studio and allow users openly talk with designers about ideas and consumer-friendly technologies that were previously shared only in unbranded clinics.

In addition, Henderson said he and other executives plan to talk with consumers in other Web-based and in-person formats in the coming months. On Monday, the new GM executive committee, led by Henderson, showed off products and technologies to about 75 consumers at the GM Technical Center and the Milford Proving Ground.

“The key to restarting this company lies with GM’s customers, cars and culture,” Henderson said. “With four focused brands, we are committed to exceeding our current customers’ expectations and giving consumers plenty of reasons to choose a Chevy, Buick, GMC or Cadillac car or truck.”

Chevrolet Volt fuel economy achieves triple digits

Using development testing based on a draft U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) procedure for plug-in electric vehicles, the Chevrolet Volt is expected to achieve 230 miles per gallon or better in city driving (25 kW hours per 100 miles). The Volt, scheduled to begin production late next year as a 2011 model, can travel up to 40 miles on electricity from a single battery charge and can extend its overall range to more than 300 miles with its flex-fuel engine-generator.

The EPA test procedure for plug-in electric vehicles, which is still being finalized, assumes a single charge each day. According to U.S. Department of Transportation data (, nearly eight of 10 Americans commute fewer than 40 miles a day.

“From the data we’ve seen, most drivers could operate purely on grid electricity in a Chevy Volt,” Henderson said. “A car that gets more than 100 miles per gallon is a significant step in the reinvention of the auto industry and GM is and will continue to be a leader in that reinvention."

Cadillac confirms entry luxury sedan

With the all-new SRX and CTS Sport Wagon coming to market this month, the brand plans to pursue an even bigger piece of the luxury sport sedan market. Cadillac is developing a sport sedan below the acclaimed CTS that will deliver on the price of entry in this highly competitive segment of the luxury market – driving dynamics. With high-tech engines, rear-wheel drive and optional all-wheel drive, the new sedan will take on the best in the segment.

“We are determined to repeat what CTS has already achieved in design, quality, driving dynamics, performance and fuel economy to grow our presence in this high-volume and highly competitive segment,” Henderson said.

Greater customer engagement

While GM has organized customer clinics and collected feedback for many years, the Web provides even greater opportunities to connect with consumers. Henderson said executives will use a combination of in-person meetings and online technology to better interact with them.

“Our customers are the reason we’re here. It’s critical to have their voices help shape our products, and their experience with them,” Henderson said. “Their feedback helps us learn and evolve so we can continuously improve our cars and trucks, and our customer relationships.”

In addition to “Tell Fritz,” a feature on, in which customers can provide feedback, GM will use its popular FastLane blog ( to launch “The Lab,” a microsite featuring future projects by GM’s Advanced Design team.

Interacting directly with designers, consumers can share input on designs and technologies being considered for future projects. Those who provide detailed demographic information may be invited to participate at a deeper level in future sessions.

2010 launch vehicles by Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC

GM’s four core brands are launching six all-new vehicles for 2010. Here’s a brand-by-brand look at what’s new:

Buick: The all-new Buick LaCrosse continues a brand renaissance begun by the Enclave luxury crossover. The LaCrosse is a completely redesigned luxury sedan that offers a sculpted exterior and luxurious cabin; advanced, intelligent personal technologies and safety features; and a choice of two fuel-saving, direct injected V-6 engines. A 2.4L four-cylinder engine joins the lineup later.

Last week, Buick announced it will introduce a compact crossover SUV next year expected to achieve more than 30 mpg on the highway, followed in 2011 by a plug-in hybrid.

Cadillac: GM’s luxury brand launches the SRX crossover and the CTS Sport Wagon into the luxury market, featuring Cadillac’s signature design and technology.

The new SRX is designed to make more inroads into the previously conservative luxury crossover category. A new, 3.0L direct injected V-6 engine is standard, and a new, 2.8L turbocharged V-6 is optional. Both feature greater fuel economy and lower emissions.

The CTS Sport Wagon is a progressive take on the classic wagon body style that delivers significant functionality and fuel efficiency, including an estimated 28 mpg highway. Essentially the same size as the acclaimed CTS sport sedan on the outside, it nearly doubles the cargo carrying capacity, with 25 cubic feet (720 liters) of space behind the rear seats and 53.4 cubic feet (1,523 liters) with the rear seat folded.

Chevrolet: The new Chevrolet Camaro returns after a seven-year hiatus. Its combination of efficient performance, which delivers up to 29 mpg highway and heritage-inspired design exemplify Chevrolet’s commitment to great design and fuel-efficiency.

The all-new Chevrolet Equinox blends distinctive design and outstanding roominess with class-leading efficiency. Chevrolet expects nearly two-thirds of customers will choose the efficient 2.4L engine – standard on all models – that delivers best-in-class EPA-rated 32 mpg highway (FWD models).

GMC: The all-new GMC Terrain crossover SUV offers outstanding fuel economy along with the capability, engineering excellence and refinement that have defined GMC for more than a century. Like other GMC vehicles, the Terrain’s design is characterized by elements that suggest muscularity, with a prominent front end and squared-off edges.

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Chevrolet Volt Expects 230 mpg in City Driving

GM Unveils Second Propulsion System for Chevro...Image by gmeurope via Flickr

The Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric vehicle is expected to achieve city fuel economy of at least 230 miles per gallon, based on development testing using a draft EPA federal fuel economy methodology for labeling for plug-in electric vehicles.

The Volt, which is scheduled to start production in late 2010 as a 2011 model, is expected to travel up to 40 miles on electricity from a single battery charge and be able to extend its overall range to more than 300 miles with its flex fuel-powered engine-generator.

"From the data we've seen, many Chevy Volt drivers may be able to be in pure electric mode on a daily basis without having to use any gas," said GM Chief Executive Officer Fritz Henderson. "EPA labels are a yardstick for customers to compare the fuel efficiency of vehicles. So, a vehicle like the Volt that achieves a composite triple-digit fuel economy is a game-changer."

According to U.S. Department of Transportation data, nearly eight of 10 Americans commute fewer than 40 miles a day .

"The key to high-mileage performance is for a Volt driver to plug into the electric grid at least once each day," Henderson said.

Volt drivers' actual gas-free mileage will vary depending on how far they travel and other factors, such as how much cargo or how many passengers they carry and how much the air conditioner or other accessories are used. Based on the results of unofficial development testing of pre-production prototypes, the Volt has achieved 40 miles of electric-only, petroleum-free driving in both EPA city and highway test cycles.

Under the new methodology being developed, EPA weights plug-in electric vehicles as traveling more city miles than highway miles on only electricity. The EPA methodology uses kilowatt hours per 100 miles traveled to define the electrical efficiency of plug-ins. Applying EPA's methodology, GM expects the Volt to consume as little as 25 kilowatt hours per 100 miles in city driving. At the U.S. average cost of electricity (approximately 11 cents per kWh), a typical Volt driver would pay about $2.75 for electricity to travel 100 miles, or less than 3 cents per mile.

The Chevrolet Volt uses grid electricity as its primary source of energy to propel the car. There are two modes of operation: Electric and Extended-Range. In electric mode, the Volt will not use gasoline or produce tailpipe emissions when driving. During this primary mode of operation, the Volt is powered by electrical energy stored in its 16 kWh lithium-ion battery pack.

When the battery reaches a minimum state of charge, the Volt automatically switches to Extended-Range mode. In this secondary mode of operation, an engine-generator produces electricity to power the vehicle. The energy stored in the battery supplements the engine-generator when additional power is needed during heavy accelerations or on steep inclines.

"The 230 city mpg number is a great indication of the capabilities of the Volt's electric propulsion system and its ability to displace gasoline," said Frank Weber, global vehicle line executive for the Volt. "Actual testing with production vehicles will occur next year closer to vehicle launch. However, we are very encouraged by this development, and we also think that it is important to continue to share our findings in real time, as we have with other aspects of the Volt's development."

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2010 GM Full-Size Pickups Achieve Best-in-Class Fuel Economy

Author: Brian Wallen (Myself) Source: MyselfImage via Wikipedia

General Motors announced that powertrain enhancements have enabled Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups to achieve best-in-class fuel economy, based on the latest EPA estimates.

Silverado and Sierra 5.3L V-8 engine EPA-estimated fuel economy improves for 2010 from 14 city / 20 highway to 15 city / 21 highway MPG, while Extra Fuel Economy (XFE) models move from 15 city / 21 highway to 15 city / 22 highway MPG. This development, combined with the fact that GM's hybrid pickups achieve an EPA estimated 21 city / 22 highway, puts Silverado and Sierra at the top in fuel economy.

Contributing to this development is a new fuel saver mode which enables the trucks to make better use of GM's Active Fuel Management system, running on four-cylinders in light throttle conditions instead of eight. In addition, more efficient six-speed transmission shift points, engine variable valve timing and a lower gear ratio of 3.08 (now standard on GM full-size pickups) each play an important role in the improved fuel economy.

This fuel economy improvement comes with no compromise in capability. Horsepower, payload, and trailering specifications remain the same for Chevy and GMC full-size pickups.

For reference, the following information is the most recent available EPA-estimated comparable fuel economy data for GM's main competitors in this segment.

Ford - 5.4L: 14 city / 20 hwy; 4.6L with 6-speed transmission: 15 city / 21 hwy

Dodge - 5.7L: 14 city / 20 hwy

Toyota - 5.7L: 14 city / 18 hwy; 4.6L: 15 city / 20 hwy

Nissan - 5.6L: 13 city / 17 hwy; 5.6L (E85): 13 city / 18 hwy

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