Chevy’s Malibu Eco uses lower fuel due to electric power assist steering

Article by Anita Panait, on April 12, 2012

Do you want a midsize sedan that effectively reduces your fuel costs while helping you save the environment? Why not try the Chevrolet Malibu Eco? The Chevrolet Malibu Eco is the perfect choice for drivers who want to save money amidst the rising pump prices. The secret? Malibu Eco features a unique highly advanced technology.

Chevy installed the Malibu Eco with a state-of-the-art electric power assist steering system that allows drivers to save fuel by 2.5% compared to conventional hydraulic steering systems.

The Malibu Eco’s electric power assist steering saves fuel by consumer power only during steering maneuvers, in contrast to hydraulic pumps that constantly drains engine power. The Malibu Eco’s electric power assist steering system also cuts carbon dioxide emissions and maintenance cost by getting rid of the need to dispose hydraulic fluid.

The system continuously measures the driver’s steering input and adjusts to different road conditions. The system also helps counteracts small directional shifts as results of uneven road surfaces or crosswinds. The system allows drivers to have more control of the car in low-speed parking as well high-speed travels. A driver could choose between different driving modes like “comfort” and “sport” in some models.

With the electric power assist steering system, a driver could save around 12 gallons annually, or about 120 gallons in a 10-year life. Chevrolet Malibu Eco has an EPA-estimated fuel economy rating of 25 mpg in the city and 37 mpg on the highway. According to Mark Meyers, General Motors global vehicle performance manager, the company intends to install electric power assist steering systems in than half of all Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC vehicles by the end of the 2013 model year.

The eAssist system is paired to the four-cylinder 2.4-liter direct-injection Ecotec engine and the next generation automatic six-speed transmission. Proof of how efficient the engine is the electronic throttle control, continuously variable intake and exhaust timing direct injection, and the dual-overhead cams. In addition to being efficient, it is lightweight as well with both the cylinder block and the cylinder head made of lightweight aluminum.

The power of this engine is estimated to be at 180 hp (134 kW). Additionally, a version of this engine was awarded in 2012 with Ward's Ten Best Engines. In many standard vehicles, energy is generally lost when braking. But with the eAssist system, the new Chevrolet Malibu ECO is able to recover at most 15 kW of the energy and then use it in order to recharge the vehicle’s lithium-ion battery. In certain situations involving deceleration, this same system shuts down the fuel delivery and this helps improve the fuel economy even further.

While the vehicle is in fuel shut-off mode, its motor-generator unit remains to spin on its engine. This allows for a smooth and instant take-off power especially when the driver is pressing on the model’s accelerator.

Through the engine and the transmission, the eAssist system is also able to utilize all of the power that is stored inside the lithium-ion battery and thus helps provide that important electrical boost in certain driving conditions. The combination also helps optimize the operation of the engine and the transmission it is paired to. Capable of 115 volts, the lithium-ion battery plus the 15-kW motor generator unit improves fuel economy through a number of methods.

There is of course the regenerative braking where it can recover a maximum of 15 kW to recharge the battery. There is also the intelligent discharge and charge of its high-voltage battery. Helping the Malibu ECO save fuel as well is the fuel cut-off when decelerating and reaching a complete stop. When stopped, it makes use of electricity rather than gasoline and even has the smooth and automatic engine start-stop function.

Press Release

Chevrolet Malibu Eco Saves Gas with Fuel-Efficient Tech

DETROIT – Giving up that cup of coffee for your commute because the cost of filling your gas tank just went up again? Not everyone is. Chevrolet Malibu Eco owners are well positioned to weather seasonal increases in fuel prices because the car features fuel-saving technologies that could help pay for their java fix.

One such solution is literally at their fingertips. Chevy’s most fuel-efficient midsize sedan ever features electric power assist steering, which helps to improve fuel economy by up to 2.5 percent compared to conventional hydraulic steering systems. This can help customers save approximately 12 gallons annually, or about 120 gallons in a 10-year life. At $4 per gallon, that saves about $50 per year or $500 in 10 years.

Electric power assist steering operates on demand, consuming power only during steering maneuvers instead of constantly draining engine power to operate a hydraulic pump. It also reduces CO2 emissions and maintenance cost by eliminating the need to dispose of hydraulic fluid.

The system constantly measures the driver’s steering input, adapts to changing road conditions, and helps compensate for slight directional shifts caused by factors such as uneven road surfaces or crosswinds. It also makes low-speed parking maneuvers feel practically effortless, delivers a higher degree of steering feel at higher speeds, and can be tuned to various driving modes, such as “comfort” and “sport” in some models. It even helps reduce vibrations that transfer through the steering wheel.

“Electric power assist steering is just one example of how a system improvement can deliver not one but several benefits for customers,” said Mark Meyers, General Motors global vehicle performance manager. “By the end of the 2013 model year, more than half of all Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC vehicles will have electric power assist steering.”

Chevrolet Malibu Eco achieves an EPA-estimated 25 miles per gallon city and 37 mpg highway fuel economy.

It features GM’s fuel-saving eAssist technology that shuts down fuel delivery in certain deceleration conditions, further improving fuel economy. While in fuel shut-off mode, the motor-generator unit continues spinning along with the engine to provide immediate and smooth take-off power when the driver presses on the accelerator. As the vehicle comes to a stop, the motor-generator unit positions it properly for a smooth restart when the brake is released. The system also captures up to 15kW of energy that would be normally lost during braking and uses it to recharge the lithium-ion battery.

Because of electric power assist steering, eAssist, and other fuel-saving technologies, Malibu Eco can travel up to 580 highway miles (965 km) between fill-ups with a 15.8-gallon (59.9 liters) fuel tank. eAssist saves customers save an estimated $2,850 in annual fuel costs over 5 years.
Malibu Eco is on sale now and is priced at $25,595, less than competitor full hybrid vehicles. Chevrolet is scheduled to roll-out an all-new fuel-efficient 2.5L Ecotec engine on the full Malibu lineup this summer. A new turbo model will be available this fall. All Malibu models will come with electric power steering standard.

“There is no silver bullet for improving fuel efficiency,” Meyers said. “It’s the many small improvements like electric power assist steering, as seen on the new Malibu that contribute to significant savings for our customers.”

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