GM Europe at Michelin Challenge Bibendum 2006.
Andrew Marshall - GME Product Technology Communications - June 10, 2006
Saab 9-5 Ethanol powered Hybrid Convertible Concept
- Three-tier strategy toward zero-emission vehicles
- Opel is natural gas vehicle market leader in Germany
- Bioethanol and hybrid systems reduce emissions and fuel consumption
- Hydrogen fuel cell cars successful in demonstration projects
Paris, France - GM demonstrates its leading position and wide-ranging expertise in alternative propulsion concepts with four different vehicles at this year’s Michelin Challenge Bibendum in Paris from June 8 - 12. The cars with natural gas, bioethanol, hybrid and hydrogen-driven fuel cell propulsion are important elements of GM’s strategy to reduce emissions and fuel consumption. The vehicles will undergo technical tests at the five-day event in and around Paris, and participate in a rally in their respective classes. Participants will also discuss strategies for sustainable mobility at a forum. The event, created by French tire manufacturer Michelin, takes place this year for the seventh time.
The short, mid and long-term three-tier strategy of GM, the world’s largest automaker, includes the on-going optimization of conventional combustion engines, the increased use of alternative fuels such as natural gas and bioethanol, and broader application of hybrid propulsion where such systems would be most beneficial. In the long-term, the introduction of vehicles with hydrogen as a propulsion energy source offers the opportunity to establish the emission-free car as a completely environmentally compatible means of transport.
Expertise in natural gas vehicles, Opel is market leader in Germany
In its efforts to develop alternative propulsion solutions which better conserve resources, GM and its German subsidiary Opel have spent many years focusing on natural gas as a fuel. In Paris, the Opel Zafira 1.6 CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) represents the newest generation of natural gas-powered vehicles. More than 20,000 units of the seven-seat compact van’s successful predecessor were sold. Together with the Combo 1.6 CNG, the new Zafira 1.6 CNG features environmentally-friendly and efficient propulsion, which has made Opel the clear natural gas vehicle market leader in Germany. The CNG models are also available in France, Italy, Norway, Austria and Sweden, with upcoming launches in Belgium, the Netherlands, and Spain.
Opel uses the proven monovalentplus concept, designed for maximum efficiency in natural gas operation, in its natural gas propulsion systems. The intelligent underfloor arrangement of the natural gas tanks ensures the greatest possible versatility and spaciousness. The Zafira 1.6 CNG’s particular highlight is its outstanding efficiency. At the current price of 0.84 euros per kilogram of natural gas (April 2006) in Germany, fuel costs are reduced by around 30 percent compared to diesel, and as much as 50 percent compared to gasoline. The natural gas Zafira also boasts high environmental compatibility. By virtue of its propulsion unit, it produces 80 percent less nitrogen oxide than diesel, and around 20 percent less CO2 than a gasoline model (15 percent less than diesel). A 14-liter gasoline reserve tank ensures continued mobility should the next natural gas filling station be too far away. Thanks to economical consumption and the four natural gas tanks' generous capacity of 21 kilograms, the Zafira CNG has a total operating range of around 530 kilometers.
Bioethanol - less environmental impact and more sportiness
The Saab 9-5 2.0t BioPower not only demonstrates the Swedish brand’s consideration for the environment, but also offers a boost in sportiness. The use of bioethanol (E85) increases engine performance from 110 kW/150 hp to 132 kW/180 hp, while at the same time reducing CO2 emissions during combustion. In Sweden, the successful combination of engine dynamics and environmental compatibility means the Saab 9-5 2.0t BioPower currently accounts for around
80 percent of all sales of the 9-5 model range. Saab 9-5 BioPower models are also available in Germany, the United Kingdom and Switzerland, with sales in Belgium, France and the Netherlands beginning during 2006.
A renewable energy source, bioethanol is produced commercially from agricultural crops. Unlike gasoline, which is produced from oil, bioethanol combustion releases considerably less carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere, reducing CO2 emissions by up to 90 percent compared to fossil gasoline. This is because emissions from its combustion are balanced by the amount of CO2 that is removed from the atmosphere when the crops are grown.
Saturn Vue Green Line Hybrid - up to 20 percent lower consumption
In addition to natural gas and bioethanol as alternative fuels, GM is also focusing on hybrid technology. GM launched the world’s first hybrid pickup truck, the Chevrolet Silverado, in the USA in 2004. At this year’s Detroit Motor Show in January, GM unveiled the production version of the Saturn Vue Green Line Hybrid, the first GM vehicle of a new hybrid generation. The compact SUV delivers an estimated 20 percent improvement in fuel economy compared to a conventional gasoline engine, depending on driving conditions. It uses sophisticated electronic controls and a unique electric motor/generator mated to a 2.4-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine with variable valve timing. The innovative powertrain produces 127 kW/170 hp, considerably more than the 106 kW/143 hp provided by the 2.2-liter gasoline engine in the conventional Saturn Vue.
The Vue Green Line’s hybrid system reduces fuel consumption by shutting off the engine when the vehicle is stopped, restarting the engine promptly when the brake pedal is released, enabling early fuel shut-off during vehicle deceleration, capturing vehicle kinetic energy during deceleration (regenerative braking) and by performing intelligent charging of the battery when it is most efficient to do so. The system also provides additional power from the electric motor/generator when driving off from a standstill, if necessary. Additional acceleration power is also made available when needed, such as during overtaking. The new hybrid system is designed so that all additional functions continue to operate even when the vehicle has stopped.
Opel HydroGen3: Marathon runner, rally champion and customer service vehicle
GM’s long-term aim is to develop hydrogen fuel cell-powered vehicles to production maturity, thereby ensuring individual mobility without emissions. With the HydroGen3, GM proves that alternative propulsion has already made the leap from the laboratory to the road. The development vehicle, based on the Opel Zafira, gets its electric power from 200 hydrogen fuel cell units connected in series in the fuel cell stack under the hood. These cells power the HydroGen3's 60 kW/82 hp electric motor.
The power plant, which develops a maximum torque of 215 Nm, delivers a top speed of 160 km/h and accelerates the fuel cell Zafira from zero to 100 km/h in about 16 seconds in almost complete silence. At the Fuel Cell Marathon held in spring 2004, the HydroGen3 covered almost 10,000 kilometers through 14 European countries. In April 2005, it won the Rallye Monte Carlo for fuel cell-powered vehicles. The car is currently being used as a customer service vehicle at IKEA’s furniture store in Berlin as part of the Clean Energy Partnership (CEP), Berlin’s government-aided hydrogen demonstration project.