GM has an unusual opportunity. With the introduction of their new diesels, intended for the light truck market and the prowess of their Powertrain Division, they could make a couple of cars that could get a lot of attention real fast.
First a qualifier. If a person knows anything about GM, they are masters of flexible engine/transmission packaging. Every engine they ever built will fit (with minimal mods) every car they ever built. If they are touting a 4.5 liter V-8, you can bet the farm that somewhere in the bowels of the Warren engineering center there is a 3.4 liter V-6 and a 2.3 liter I-4, and the transfer line for the V-8 can make the V-6 and I-4. That has been GM policy since Alfred P. Sloan and ?Engine Charlie? Wilson.
First the easy one. Put the 4.5 liter V-8 into the new platform being sold as the Pontiac G8. Front engine, rear drive. Put the diesel and a T-56 six-speed into the same car and you are easily into the 40 MPFG class with a car one does not have to be a midget to squeeze into. When it is ready also put the 3.4 liter V-6 into the same car, same transmission probably good for the mid-40s.
Now the tough one. GM needs an ?Insight.? A car that is fangs out for the MPG crown. Myself I would imitate the VW sex toy. Two seats, tandem arrangement, a small (<25 HP) diesel, manual or constant-mesh transmission, a narrow four-wheel layout, and a composite body. With a tandem layout, frontal area could be cut 40-50% and not sacrifice this car to a midget-only market. GM could put in a new line at the Bowling Green KY Corvette plant and capitalize on the fact that work force knows how to make quality composite cars bodies. The car need not be a mass-market car any more than the Insight was, but it should be numerous enough to get visibility and make GM?s bones as a builder of high MPG cars.
Ford and Chrysler have atrophied to the point they simply cannot do something like this. Frankly I expect both to be liquidated within a decade. But GM can do it, by trading on existing strengths.
2000 Ford F-350 Super Cab Pickup
4x2, 6 speed manual
Regeared to 3.08:1
4 inch suspension slam
Aero mods: "Fastback" fairing and rugged air dam and side skirts
Stock MPG: 19
Summer MPG: 27.0
Winter MPG: 24
But GM can do it, by trading on existing strengths.
Hmmm yeah, they can wait for Toyota to do it and stick a Chevrolet badge on the front.
Chrysler actually is now hooked up with Nissan and Renault, and is sleeping around with Volkswagen, and some Chinese concerns, so they might be able to pull something out of their.. um.. hat.
I remember The RoadWarrior..To understand who he was, you have to go back to another time..the world was powered by the black fuel & the desert sprouted great cities..Gone now, swept away..two mighty warrior tribes went to war & touched off a blaze which engulfed them all. Without fuel, they were nothing..thundering machines sputtered & stopped..Only those mobile enough to scavenge, brutal enough to pillage would survive. The gangs took over the highways, ready to wage war for a tank of juice
I've thought about GM having a little gassaver...maybe in the Saturn line, though it'd fit just as well in the Chebby line as well. Maybe base it on the Opel Corsa, a nice, small, light car. Take a 1.4l DOHC 16v, with variable valve timing + lift, direct-injection, low friction componentry, smooth out the aero, and stick taller gearing on it. Maybe even get a lean-burn on it. Cut the weighty options and BOOM! You have a 50mpg car for the everyman. Well...at least those who (like me) like their el-strippo cars. Or, have a turbodiesel model...that would even attract me.
'67 Mustang - out of commission after an accident
'00 Echo - DD
'11 Kia Rio - Wife's DD
'09 Harley Nightster - 48mpg and 1/4 miles in the 12's
Bring back the Impact / EV1 body and chassis with a small hybrid (gas or diesel)since they don't want to go the full electric route, that recent 'smoke and mirror' show car notwithstanding. "Oh yeah! It'll go 200 miles on a charge at 75 mph, but we're just need to wait waiting for the batteries to be developed that'll actually allow it to do that." Jerks.
Big Dave's suggestion about using the Kentucky facility has some merit, but the politics and implication of having the highest economy car in the same plant as the Corvette might have purists on both the green side and the black&white checkered side complaining.
If GM is anything, they're image concious. They percieve performance and fuel economy as being mutually exclusive so having both of their standard bearers in those segments coming from the same group would not sit well with marketing.