General Motors will be using cylinder deactivation on its next generation of trucks, as part of the carmaker’s effort to provide competitive fuel economy without sacrificing V-8 power. Engineers at GM confirmed last week that the carmaker’s fifth-generation small-block V-8 engine set for service in GM's redesigned pickups and sports utility vehicles will include cylinder deactivation, which the company refers to as "active fuel management."
The carmaker has been using the cylinder deactivation technology on its full-sized pickups since 2007. According to GM engineers, active fuel management hikes fuel efficiency by up to eight percent, and is the single most potent gasoline-engine technology it can deploy to increase vehicle mileage.
The system shuts off the combustion in four of the eight cylinders of the engine during low-revving conditions, like decelerating or coasting on the highway. The technology saves fuel by cutting it off to those cylinders while shutting off the valves to stop needless pumping. The system also enables the remaining four cylinders to work more efficiently, according to GM.
The carmaker’s redoubled commitment to cylinder deactivation demonstrates one of the diverging pickup strategies of GM and Ford Motor Co. GM will use cylinder deactivation and other technologies like lighter materials and eight-speed transmissions to increase the fuel efficiency of its next-generation Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra, which are due next summer.
To attract more fuel-conscious consumers, GM is placing more importance on power and ruggedness while depending on its redesigned mid-sized pickups, the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon. According to Mark Stabinksy, a lead engineer for GM's active fuel management system, GM's full-sized pickup customers demand "performance and durability and driveability and fuel economy.
Stabinksy said that even though there are other options to boost fuel efficiency, active fuel management would be the perfect choice. Ford, for its part, does not offer cylinder deactivation, but is making a more obvious fuel economy play by banking on the success of its turbocharged EcoBoost V-6 engine in the F-150 pickup.