Car companies today are being pushed harder and harder to protect the air and make cars more fuel efficient so that less gas is used, or a different type of power is being used. General Motors (GM) has made attempts in all of the major categories to make cars that are more environmentally friendly. They have made more fuel efficient cars, hybrids, electric, light electrification, biofuels, and hydrogen.
GM has 25 vehicles that have an EPA of at least 30 mpg on the highway in todays lineup. GM wants to design, build and sell the best vehicles with the environment in mind. GM engineers are developing technologies leading to better fuel economy and reducing emissions. GM’s hybrid, the Chevy Volt, gets an estimated 98 MPG on electricity, 35 MPG in the city and 40 MPG on the highway using gas. Customers have reported going more than a month between filling up with a daily commute of less than 35 miles, with regular charging. The average volt owner travels 81 percent of the time on pure electricity. Light electrification is a solution that enhances fuel efficiency of up to 25 percent when paired with GM’s existing engines. The process involves an electric motor recapturing energy and shutting of fuel when braking. These engines also shuts-off and restarts the engine in city driving (stop-and-go).
In terms of non-petroleum engines, GM has a pure electric car, the Chevrolet Spark EV, and has cars using biofuels. They are also working on hydrogen fuel cells. The Chevy Spark, is sold in Oregon and California. It goes 0-60 in 7.6 seconds and puts out 400 lbs. per foot of torque. It gets 82 miles of range, and can have an 80 percent charge in less than 20 minutes. GM believes that biofuels are the most significant near-term solution to reducing the dependence upon petroleum and carbon dioxide emissions. GM is the world leader in producing FlexFuel (vehicles that operate on both petroleum and E85 ethanol) and offer more models. GM is also still working on hydrogen fuel cell vehicles; customers drove over three million miles in the test vehicle fleet, and GM is using their feedback to improve upon the cars.
I believe GM is making great strides towards building the cars of the future. I think this will help them to get out of the hole that they were and are in, both before, and after, the government bailouts. I think hydrogen fuel cells will have a major part in determining what the future holds for the consumer in terms of the vehicles they drive. I also think electric cars are gaining a foothold; however I do not believe that it will last, unless the range of these cars increases or it becomes faster and easier to gain a charge on them. I would like to drive the Spark, just to see how it holds up against the sports cars of today.
2015 Chevrolet Spark