According to Reuters, General Motors Co aims to save fuel by trimming the weight of its vehicles by 15% while developing electric cars with a driving range of up to 200 miles on a single charge, the U.S. automaker’s chief executive said on Wednesday.
Dan Akerson also revealed at a conference of energy executives and investors in Houston that GM’s new Spark EV would have a range of 75 miles to 80 miles (120-129 km) without a charge – double the electric-only range of its Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid. The Spark is due to go on sale this summer.
The CEO saw the Spark as basically an urban car because of consumer concerns about what many in the industry call range anxiety – the fear of getting stuck without power on the side of the road. GM has touted the Volt for its electric driving range of 40 miles that is then augmented by a gasoline engine.
But the company is working on new EVs, including one with a 100-mile range and another with 200-mile range. “If you had a 200-mile range car, that may radically change the calculus,” he said at the IHS CERAWeek conference.
In the speech, he discussed reduction of vehicle mass by up to 15 percent through the 2016-model year – cars and trucks to be unveiled in late 2015. “A good rule of thumb is that a 10 percent reduction in curb weight will reduce fuel consumption by about 6.5 percent.”
Akerson called on President Barack Obama to appoint a blue-ribbon commission to develop a 30-year U.S. energy policy framework with checkpoints every five years.
He said it should include energy producers, labor groups, and energy consumers such as GM, working together to negotiate targets. The U.S. auto industry is already pressing to meet a government requirement for corporate average fuel economy of 54.5 miles per gallon (23.2 km per liter) by 2025.
Last year, GM said it aimed to produce up to 500,000 vehicles a year with some form of electrification by 2017, including the Volt. On Wednesday, Akerson said that would save 12 billion gallons (45.4 billion liters) of fuel over the life of the vehicles GM builds between 2011 and 2017.
In addition to lighter vehicles and more electrification, GM is investing in advanced materials such as nano steels and carbon fiber, deploying clean diesel engines, rolling out such technologies as turbocharging and direct injection, and reducing carbon dioxide emissions in manufacturing, Akerson said.