GM aims to make North American cars 15% lighter by 2016 model year

Article by Eugene Conan, on March 8, 2013

General Motors has set a target to make its North American vehicles by 2016 model year lighter by up to 15 percent than its current fleet, according to GM chief executive Dan Akerson. GM estimates that a 10-percent cut in curb weight drops fuel consumption by around 6.5 percent.

Akerson remarked during an address to a Houston energy conference that to reach the target, GM is "aggressively investing" in new materials and technologies like carbon fiber, nanosteel and resistance spot welding for aluminum structures. He, however, assured the public that despite the move to make GM vehicles lighter, the carmaker would not compromise safety, comfort and performance.

Akerson noted that the 2013 Cadillac ATS is lighter than the similar-sized BMW 3 series. GM has said it is aiming for major weight savings for its vehicles, which usually are heavier than their competing models, hurting fuel economy. GM that time did not specify an across-the-board goal for weight reduction. During his address, Akerson also discussed electric vehicles and compressed natural gas.

He urged the Obama administration to create a blue-ribbon commission to develop a national energy policy. Akerson quipped that GM is working on developing an electric car that could travel up to 200 miles, noting that there will be breakthroughs in battery technology.

GM’s CEO said that the carmaker is developing a car that is anathema to the way the auto industry works. He noted that GM is running a dual play on the technology to see which one will succeed. He said one of the plays will result in a 100-mile range while the other will lead to a 200-mile range. One thing is for sure: lighter vehicles will also drop car prices but you will still need a cheap car insurance!

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