Saturday, June 13, 2009

GM to Work on More Efficient Fuel System for Malibu and Aura

General Motors has canceled the mild gas/electric Malibu hybrid and Saturn Aura that they were currently working on. The current early generation gas-electric hybrid engine system the midsize cars aren't selling well because they cost about $4,000 more than base models but only get four more miles per gallon of gasoline. Models equipped with a four-cylinder engine and six-speed automatic transmission, which cost about $900 less than the hybrid, get only one mile less per gallon on the highway and four miles less in the city.

So with that in mind there was little reason to continue the use of the system. Instead engineers are working on a more efficient system rather than settling for the somewhat mediocre results of the current one.

"We've seen a lot of people go for the four-cylinder six-speed," GM spokesman Terry Rhadigan said. "That may have had an impact on why they're (hybrids) plentiful in the marketplace."

He also stated that the "new" version will be available sometime in 2010 and that they will have 14 gas/electric hybrids on the market by 2012.

Although they are taking steps in the right direction they are certainly behind the trend. Their results are like a diet pill compared to their closest competitors.

Earlier this year, Ford came out with the midsize Fusion hybrid sedan, which gets 36 miles per gallon on the highway and 41 in the city. They pushed to get it over 40 MPG to help differentiate them from their competition.

Initially the Fusion hybrid got to 39 miles per gallon, but engineers were challenged to go back and get it over 40, she said.

"There's a big mental difference between 39.999 and 40," Nancy Gioia, Ford's director of hybrid vehicle programs said. "So we went back to the labs again and said there were some things that the team would continue to refine."

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