With the national average gas prices inching to nearly $4 a gallon ($3.96 today), efforts to boost the fuel economy of new vehicle models are heating up. Take, for example, the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze Eco. General Motors' tire development engineers worked with tire manufacturers to develop what they call an "industry benchmark tire." What does this mean? Well, it supposedly increases the Cruze Eco's fuel efficiency by three miles per gallon. That equates to a yearly savings of $112 on fuel for the average Eco owner.
The Cruze Eco's Goodyear Assurance Fuel Max tires feature "high-tech polymers" that reduce rolling resistance without sacrificing braking traction or all-weather handling, according to GM. Of course, the tires represent just one of the many fuel-saving technologies employed on the Cruze Eco. When equipped with a six-speed manual transmission and the standard Fuel Max tires, the Cruze Eco, which is priced from $18,995, returns a segment-leading 42 miles per gallon on the highway. Of course, when the time comes to change your tires, you'd better get something equally efficient, or else you'll be paying that $112 again.
Live photos by Drew Phillips / Copyright ©2010 AOL
[Source: General Motors]
Ultra-efficient tires help deliver hybrid-like fuel economy
DETROIT – With gas prices near or exceeding $4 a gallon, the efforts of GM engineers to boost fuel economy on the Chevrolet Cruze Eco compact are adding up.
GM tire development engineer Chuck Lantz and his team worked with tire manufacturers to produce an industry benchmark tire that boosts fuel efficiency by three miles per gallon on the Chevy Cruze Eco. That's about 38 extra miles on a tank of fuel and a savings of about $112 per year for the average driver.
"This tire is way beyond anything in its category," said Lantz. The Cruze Eco tires make use of special polymers built into the tread compound to reduce rolling resistance, which means less energy is required to keep the tire moving.
So what makes the tire unique? Typically, improving one facet of tire performance like rolling resistance requires sacrifices in other areas like traction in snow and stopping distance. Not so with the leading-edge Cruze Eco tires.
"Thanks to the high-tech polymers we used, we were able to create a high-MPG set of tires without making tradeoffs in other important areas like tire-braking traction and all-weather handling," said Lantz. "As far as the ride goes, these tires are as smooth as any tire on the road today."
The tires represent one of many fuel-saving technologies that help the Cruze Eco average 42 miles per gallon on the highway. With a starting suggested price of $19,175, Cruze Eco offers hybrid-like fuel economy without the premium price tag. Other innovations that make the Cruze an MPG standout include an air shutter system that morphs the aerodynamic profile of the vehicle to optimize fuel efficiency and energy-efficient rack-mounted electric power steering.
Lantz, an incurable tinkerer, grew up tearing apart and rebuilding childhood toys to figure out what made them tick.
"A curiosity about how things work is second nature to me," he said. "In my work, I'm always looking at how we can make things better for our customers."
Before joining General Motors, Lantz spent more than 20 years at a major tire manufacturer. "Back then, I worked with many automakers," said Lantz. "That experience taught me that GM knows more about tires than any other automaker by far."
Founded in Detroit in 1911, Chevrolet celebrates its centennial as a global automotive brand with annual sales of about 4.25 million vehicles in more than 120 countries. Chevrolet provides consumers with fuel-efficient, safe and reliable vehicles that deliver high quality, expressive design, spirited performance and value. The Chevrolet portfolio includes iconic performance cars such as Corvette and Camaro; dependable, long-lasting pickups and SUVs such as Silverado and Suburban; and award-winning passenger cars and crossovers such as Spark, Cruze, Malibu, Equinox and Traverse. Chevrolet also offers "gas-friendly to gas-free" solutions including Cruze Eco and Volt. Cruze Eco offers 42 mpg highway while Volt offers 35 miles of electric, gasoline-free driving and an additional 344 miles of extended range. Most new Chevrolet models offer OnStar safety, security and convenience technologies including OnStar Hands-Free Calling, Automatic Crash Response and Stolen Vehicle Slowdown. More information regarding Chevrolet models can be found at www.chevrolet.com