(Jun 29, 2007)


GM unveils plan to make cars in Europe more environmentally friendly



From AP


BERLIN (AP) - General Motor Corp.'s European division announced a push on Friday to make its model line more environmentally friendly, saying it would put cleaner engines in conventional cars, offer more cars that can use ethanol and move ahead with fuel cell technology.

The company dubbed the program ecoFLEX and said it would offer an ecoFLEX variant with lower emissions in each model line, beginning with the 2008 Corsa 1.3 CDTI compact from its European Opel brand, officials said at a news conference in Berlin.

The car will emit 119 grams per kilogram of carbon dioxide, below the proposed EU average standard of 130 grams per kilogram. A key goal for GM will be to produce vehicles with the same performance standards and that cost the same as conventional vehicles.

Swedish brand Saab, owned by GM, would also expand its range of biofuel engines and even luxury brand Cadillac will offer a model with an E85 biofuel engine by fall 2007. E85 is a motor fuel blend made of up to 85 percent ethanol _ an alcohol that can be derived from plants.

General Motors Vice Chairman Bob Lutz said the program offers ways to cut CO2 emissions quickly.

''E85 has a very strong potential to significantly reduce CO2 from passenger cars in the near term. What is required is a pan-European policy to make the necessary fuels widely available and reflect the lower CO2 emissions in vehicle taxation,'' he said.

GM officials said they would address environmental concerns with several technologies rather than focus on just one. They said they were moving ahead ''flat-out'' on developing vehicles that run on hydrogen fuel cells, while other technologies could simply improve the environmental performance of existing internal combustion engines.

One example was Eco-Turbo engines that use smaller cylinder displacements but produce equivalent power and efficiency through turbocharging.

The company said it would develop 16 new GM Europe engine families and 10 new transmission families by 2012.


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