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GM Reduces Carbon Footprint by .0000001mm


New models get 1 more mile per gallon.


Call it the 1 mile-per-gallon solution - and try not to laugh.

General Motors (GM) plans to release new versions of its full-sized pickup trucks and SUVs later this fall. Both space-age editions get an extra mile per gallon in both city and highway driving.

The new models are designated XFE (for "extra fuel economy").

That'll scare the bejabbers out of Toyota (TM) and Honda (HMC), eh?

On the new XFE models of Chevrolet Silverado, Chevrolet Tahoe, GMC Sierra trucks and GMC Yukon SUV models, GM extended the front lower air dam, lowered the suspension and revised the chassis to cut aerodynamic drag. GM also cut vehicle weight by using more aluminum parts, including an aluminum spare. The engine is a 5.3-liter V-8 with aluminum cylinder block and heads that can run on ethanol, surely one of the great boondoggles of our time.

All this creates a net savings of 1 mpg - a great selling point to the math challenged. The whole thing reads like a parody: Imagine a fast food chain pitching a cheeseburger, fries and chocolate shake package that makes you fat, but more gracefully than the competition. Call it health food!

GM reported a net loss of $15.5 billion, or $27.33 per share, for the second quarter. Sales of GM trucks and SUVs dropped 23% in the first seven months of this year. Consumers turned to fuel-efficient cars as gasoline prices rose.

The XFE pickups and SUVs are scheduled to be in showrooms in the fourth quarter of 2008. The automaker now offers hybrid versions of the Tahoe and Yukon , as well as an XFE version of the Chevrolet Cobalt. It plans to offer hybrid versions of the Silverado and Sierra in the first half of next year.

Even with an additional 1 mpg from the XFE models (the new models get 15 mpg in the city and 21 on the highway), it looks like it's still a long way back to profitability. As a point of comparison, the Ford (F) Ranger pickup gets 21 mpg in the city, 26 on the highway; the Jeep Compass SUV gets 23 miles in the city, 28 mpg on the highway.

GM's clearly behind: What's the level needed to catch buyers' attention? Maybe 20 mpg in city driving and 25 on the highway, or even 25 and 30? We'll see.

But look on the bright side: GM is upfront about its microscopic gains, unlike the guys who hawk "miracle magnets" as a way to improve gas mileage. Here's the skinny on the science of that scam: Gas flows past the magnet attached to the fuel line, see, and the magnetic field busts up clusters of fuel molecules, allowing the gas to burn more efficiently.

Only one problem: Gasoline molecules aren't magnetic.

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