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Chevrolet Silverado – Click above for high-res image gallery

General Motors' full-size pickup trucks may be next in line to get thermostatically controlled louvers behind the grille to improve aerodynamics. SRG Global, which produces a variety of components for numerous manufacturers, is developing just such a system for GM's trucks. Similar systems will debut later this year on the Chevrolet Cruze and later on the new Ford Focus.

One of the biggest sources of aerodynamic drag and turbulence comes from the air flowing through a vehicle's engine compartment. Closing off the grille to limit this airflow can drastically reduce this issue, however, the engine still needs air for cooling – especially at lower speeds. At higher speeds, the increased air velocity means less open area is required for adequate cooling.

Thermostatically controlled slats monitor coolant temperatures and then open or close as needed, giving the best of both worlds at the expense of a bit of added cost and complexity. That said, SRG's new designs will integrate the slats into the grille structure reducing the cost of the system and making assembly simpler. Theoretically, such technology could also be used to improve cold-weather warm-ups by keeping the grille's slats closed.

  • 2007 Chevrolet Silverado LT, Z71 Crew Cab. X07CT_SL085 (United States)
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  • 2007 Chevrolet Silverado LTZ Extended Cab. X07CT_SL069 (United States)
  • 2007 Chevrolet Silverado LTZ Extended Cab. X07CT_SL077 (United States)
  • 2007 Chevrolet Silverado LT, Z71 Crew Cab. X07CT_SL093 (United States)
  • 2007 GMC Sierra SLE Extended Cab. X07GM_SL070 (United States)
  • 2007 Chevrolet Silverado LTZ. X07CT_SL020 (United States)

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      This is a great idea. A lot of these little changes can add up to significant improvements. I think all cars and trucks should have this feature, especially in the cold climates.

      Keep it up GM.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Americans AREN'T concerned about fuel economy despite the car they purchase. Here's why I say this - regardless of the product you drive, you could more easily and more cheaply save gasoline by maintaining your tire pressure, driving with an eye on the stop light sequences on your daily commute, knowing the best trip route for fuel economy, keeping filters clean and oil changed regularly than buying a NEW product.

      Case in point - my 1997 Escort was averaging around 30 mpgs overall before I bought a scanguage II that allowed me to see actual mpgs (and then calibrating that device to reflect 5% plus or minus accuracy). By examining my driving style and impact on fuel economy, I am averaging 36-38 mpgs overall - and I spent only $169 to get the device. This is a no brainer. Plus I don't drive above (or below) speed limit and anticipate traffic lights and coast where it does not impede traffic. I could probably improve another 10% on that but it would sometimes impact on other traffic which isn't my point.

      Whether you are driving a Honda or an F-150, if you drive like a dumbass and drag race to and from stoplights, you are a complete idiot - you are burning gas you could be saving - and that would save money big time.

      So don't give me the excuse that Americans would buy more fuel efficient vehicles if they were made. The power of fuel efficiency isn't in the wheels you drive - it is in the power of your brain and your foot.
        • 5 Years Ago
        You are wrong, of course.
        They do care, but only to some extent, exactly like people everywhere in the world do.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Seriously...there's SO much that can be done to improve fuel economy on trucks.

      -Direct injection anyone?
      -Cylinder deactivation
      -Aerodynamic front fascia
      -Variable ride height
      -Weight reduction
      -Smoothing the underside
      -Smaller wheel wells
      -Smaller / adjustable side-view mirrors
      -Electric motor fan
      -Adjustable timing belt for the ac...so it doesn't constantly need to spin.
      -Start Stop
        • 5 Years Ago
        I've heard it from several people in the automotive industry. And also have you ever been behind a DI car when they stomp on the gas? You can usually see a puff of black smoke you wouldn't see from a port injected engine. The source below is for Euro 6 emissions, but the US is usually right with or even ahead of Europe when it comes to emissions standards.

        Source: http://www.cambustion.com/particulate quote below:
        Increasing focus on fuel economy has encouraged widespread adoption of Direct Injection Gasoline (GDI) (also known as Direct Injection Spark Ignition DISI) engines, often coupled with turbo-charging. GDI brings difficulties in mixture preparation- the reduced time available for evaporation means that such engines may have higher particle emissions than port fuel injected engines, especially at cold start and during transients. The prospect of particle number emissions restrictions applying to direct injection gasoline engines in Euro 6 means that these engines may also require significant calibration effort to meet particle legislation. Approaches such as Gasoline Particulate Filters are amongst the tools available, although improved calibration may be able to reduce the emission levels sufficiently.
        • 5 Years Ago
        "Direct Injection - Good, but, they have higher particulate emissions, and regulations are on there way to require DPF's on gasoline cars"

        Tim, can you quote your source here? I have never heard of this. Everything i have read about DI explicitly states that all emissions levels are far lower, since the fuel is burned more completely.

        The only emissions downside i know about is higher NOx levels when they are in ultra lean mode, but that can be controlled.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Direct Injection - Good, but, they have higher particulate emissions, and regulations are on there way to require DPF's on gasoline cars (if you don't know what a DPF is, it's a diesel particulate filter, and needs to be cleaned now and then, and that takes fuel, so there goes some of your added FE from DI)

        Cylinder Deactivation - a lot of money for very little gain. Pretty much the only benefit is that you have less pumping losses. Turning off half the cylinders doesn't mean turning off half the fuel.

        Aerodynamics - Good

        Variable Ride Height - Good, but can be costly, and what if it breaks in the "low" position.

        Weight Reduction - can reduce capability. Like Corner49 said. If you're towing something that weighs a lot you want something that weighs a lot of tow it. Think about it, a Corvette has as much power as 1 ton truck, but I wouldn't pull 20,000 pounds with it.

        Smoothing the underside - good

        Small wheel wells - that usually means less wheel travel, which is usually a problem for trucks. And I know GM always gets crap from people because the wheel wells are too small to put bigger than stock tires on. So that's not good.

        Smaller mirrors - have you ever towed anything big with small mirrors? I love the huge tow mirrors on my truck. I can back up my truck better than I can my car because of the huge mirrors.

        Electric Motor Fan - Do you realize how big and how much power it takes to turn a fan on a diesel truck like the Duramax? With an electrical fan you would overheat so fast it's not funny. The electric motor would have to be HUGE, which would then cause you to need a huge alternator so your electrical load would be much higher, plus packaging a huge alt and motor would be tough, and probably add weight.

        Adjustable timing belt for the AC- not sure what you mean by this. AC units are already clutched, so you aren't spinning the compressor all the time. It usually acts like an idler pulley already.

        Start-stop - would save a tiny bit of gas, but in order to start fast enough, the starter would have to be huge to turn a big V8, which would need bigger or higher voltage batteries, which are not cheap.

        So 2 possibly 3 things to improve FE.

        There is a reason things are the way they are...
      • 5 Years Ago
      I would never buy a product from Marxist union thugs that steal car companies from innocent bond holders.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I hope there would be a manual override. The last thing you need is for those to get stuck closed when you're hauling through the mountains.
      • 5 Years Ago
      why dont they just replace the grill with a completely closed one like on their Volt -

      and then replace the antequated pushrod powerplant along with it.
        • 5 Years Ago
        ahh... the "old tech" argument based on engine architecture... you guys just dnf'd this thread
        • 5 Years Ago
        "Those push rod engines have been and continue to be some of the best engines ever made. "

        Hogwash, these engines are still made because the technology is so old, that building them is a lot cheaper than investing in new technology. Cost-cutting my friend, that's all there's to it.

        By the way, do you have any statistics comparing the number of problems between these engines and other, more advances ones?
        • 5 Years Ago
        If isn't broke don't fix it. Those push rod engines have been and continue to be some of the best engines ever made. There's a reason why they are still around. We could switch from wheels to tracks on our cars. Just because you can doesn't mean you should.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yes, it is simply a price thing, and GM doesn't wanna go full bore on R&D for their v8 motors or whatever.

        There are plenty of uber reliable DOHC VVT motors out there. My e36 2.8 m52 was no exception - well known to push 200k-500k without doing a rebuilt, and in 1996, VVT was brand new.

        Just disappointed to see our domestic companies dragging ass.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Hmm.... however, the cost of an electric truck would be 3-4 times that of a standard truck. Now THAT would be a hard sell for fleets, etc.
        • 5 Years Ago

        While most cars actually suck most of their air from underneath (thus making grills fairly superfluous), trucks still keep cool through their large grills. At highway speeds they probably only need a fraction of the grill open, which makes these louvers very smart and probably inexpensive to implement. However at lower speed and when heavily loaded they need all the open surface area that they can get to keep cool.
        • 5 Years Ago
        .........I was just trying to get a reaction from the V8 faithful
        • 5 Years Ago
        Wait for the 2011 F150. They will be using their updated engines. ( ecoboost 3.5 and possibly mustang's 5.0 ).

        Chrysler and GM will no longer be competitive in fuel economy after that. They will be playing catch up again - not cool!

        I'd like to see GM be a step ahead one of these days.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'm sorry for being slightly OT.
      This, once again, emphasizes how stupid the restrictions in F1 are... Not only they make nearly impossible any breakthroughs based on brilliant new ideas (any under-dog team could get boosted in such case), but they also fail to be the claimed forge of progressive automobile technologies.
      This time real-world cars adopt active-aerodynamic elements while in F1 they are still banned.
        • 5 Years Ago
        F1 should start running Duramax engines?
        • 5 Years Ago
        I do agree though, F1 is way too tight on that kind of stuff. Formula One is supposed to be the best formula possible, instead they pour on restrictions like gravy on poutine. Kinda missing the point...
      • 5 Years Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      I wonder if they'll be using electric motors to actuate them or the smart shape shifting materials they were showing off a while back.

        • 5 Years Ago
        You are right Jordan.

        Also here is my 2 cents

        The 1990s were about Utility. Coupes were gone and 2 door SUVs dissapeared too. Cars started offering more and more room and got bigger and with better packaging. It was a one upmanship on utility.

        The 2000s were about Safety. It became very fashionable to have a 5 star safety rating. Now everybody and their dog gets 5 stars in all categories. It was a one upmanship on safety.

        The 2010s is becoming a decade of one upmanship on fuel economy. Everybody is squeezing that extra 1mpg for bragging rights.
        • 5 Years Ago
        +2 for all of you.

        IMHO there is no excuse to keep producing vehicles that produce poor fuel economy, whilst the technology exists to easily improve it at a very low cost.

        GM already has a pretty nice 3.6 DI motor, but all that tech hasn't translated to their bigger motors. Instead, they drag their heels and use outdated stuff just so they can sell you a v8 Silverado for $20k. Well, the car would be ultimately cheaper if it had a high tech motor with smaller displacement and the same towing capability.

        I am glad that the 2010's are all about fuel economy. It's effing time.
        • 5 Years Ago
        It is amazing how the Big Three for decades ignored fuel economy and said people behind better fuel economy were tree huggers and anti americans.

        now they constantly improve every year to give us better milage.

        as my grandpa said, policy is like a rubber band. pull farther than needed so it lands where you want it.

        People like Al Gore and Ralph Nader and the Sierra Club and so on maybe waccos, but as they pull us 100%, we accept 70% as reasonable and 70% is always better than zero.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @ Jordan

        Sounds like your granddad was a smart guy.

        You have to push real hard to get a little bit of movement. This all should have been happening literally decades ago - before we got to the perilous situation we are in today where we import about 1/4 of a TRILLION DOLLARS of oil every year.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I want a small truck with a 4 cylinder diesel in it
      • 5 Years Ago
      Years ago (in the '80s), Ford of Europe designed a grille for their cars with the horizontal elements angled so that once the road speed reached a certain number, the air began to flow over it instead of through it; this was to lower drag and improve fuel economy, but without requiring any moving parts. They called it a "lammelengrill". I did a Google search, but all the links I could find are in German.
      • 5 Years Ago
      louvers,thats just great!! a blunt nosed truck, no 4 or6cyl overhead cam deisel,no 6 speed manual trans,no wedge shaped body,,,guess what the public is getting hosed again!!!
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