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GM to double models with 40 mpg highway or better by 2017; ongoing manufacturing efficiency improvements

Describing its product goals and tracking progress toward its 2020 manufacturing priorities in its 2012 Sustainability Report, General Motors reaffirmed its commitment to further reduce the energy used and the environmental impacts of building and operating an automobile.

GM has made three product commitments for 2017 related to its sustainability strategy: to have 500,000 vehicles on the road in the US with some form of electrification (earlier post); to double the number of US models that can achieve an EPA-estimated 40 mpg US (5.9 l/100 km) highway or better; and to reduce the average CO2 tailpipe emissions of its US fleet by 15%. Opel also estimates it will reduce the average carbon tailpipe emissions from its fleet by 27% by 2020.

GM’s electrified vehicles today include the extended-range electric Chevrolet Volt, Spark EV and Buick LaCrosse, Regal, Chevrolet Malibu and Impala with eAssist. On the 40 mpg+ highway side, in addition to the Volt and Spark EV (with the Cadillac ELR coming), GM also currently has the Sonic and the Cruze Eco and Cruze Diesel.

GM’s fuel-economy plan through the 2016 model year focuses on a reduction in vehicle mass and aggressive investment in advanced materials, such as high-strength steel, carbon fiber and aluminum, enabled in part by our industry-first aluminum welding technology. (Earlier post.)

The company is also the thermodynamic efficiency of gasoline engines using a suite of technologies that include downsizing, turbocharging, direct injection, variable valve timing and cylinder deactivation.

The rollout of these technologies in new GM US models between 2011 and 2016 is expected to improve the fuel economy of our fleet by more than 18 percent, which will translate into a more than 15 percent reduction in CO2 emissions.

—2012 Sustainability Report

In 2012, GM invested more than $7.3 billion in the research and development of next-generation technologies, nearly all of it linked to efforts that will make driving a safer and more efficient experience. The company received more clean-energy patents during 2011 and 2012 than any other organization, according to the Clean Energy Patent Growth Index of US patents.

GM is focusing its long-term innovation efforts on five key areas:

  • Automotive Cleantech that is focused on improving fuel economy and decreasing mobile emissions through advanced engine and transmission technology, next-generation batteries and electric motors, and power electronics.

  • Connected Vehicles that leverage data, enhance vehicle safety and connect drivers with their digital worlds in a responsible way.

  • Advanced Materials that lead to more fuel-efficient vehicles through reduced weight and mass. With efficient designs and the right combination of materials, many future GM vehicles have the potential to be up to 15% lighter than comparable vehicles on the road today.

  • Sensors, Processors and Memory that can accelerate the advent of the autonomous vehicle. Over the past decade, the amount of digital code in vehicles has increased exponentially to enable features such as lane departure warning and forward collision alert. GM anticipates this trajectory continuing as it explores concepts such as vehicle-to-vehicle, vehicle-to-infrastructure and other autonomous technologies.

  • Manufacturing Technologies that yield cost and quality improvements while decreasing the use of resources and materials.

Manufacturing energy use and emissions. GM’s energy management and renewable energy programs have helped reduce carbon intensity of manufacturing by 5.3% since 2010, making progress toward its 20 percent reduction commitment by 2020.

In 2012, the company realized energy-efficiency improvements of 2% from 2011, and carbon emissions intensity decreased 2%. Also during the 12-month period, renewable energy use decreased from 73 MW to 62.3 MW, as overall energy consumption dropped during this time period. GM has a goal of 125 MW renewable energy. GM also reduced the amount of energy required to build one vehicle by 7 percent and avoided $66 million in energy costs through conservation initiatives since 2010.

In 2012, GM’s energy intensity per vehicle manufactured was 2.30 MWh per vehicle, down from 2.47 MWh/vehicle in 2010. The 2020 target is 1.97 MWh/vehicle.

Carbon intensity per vehicle in 2012 was 0.88 metric tons CO2e, down from 0.92 in 2010. The 2020 target is 0.75 tonnes/vehicle.

Carbon intensity includes all manufacturing and non-manufacturing CO2 emissions reported in the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) Scope 1&2 categories, normalized by vehicle production. This data includes data from some GM JVs. Note that the 2010 base year has been adjusted from 0.88 to 0.93 to reflect divested assets and current GHG protocol emission factors. The 2020 target was raised from 0.70 to 0.75 to reflect this change.

Many of the most recent energy-savings initiatives have been within GM International Operations (GMIO) in China, India, Kenya, Russia, South Africa, South Korea and Thailand. The latest data shows that GMIO’s average total energy usage is 1.14 MWh per vehicle, less than half the industry average of 2.37 MWh per vehicle.

GM’s landfill-free program continues to grow around the world and produce bottom-line benefits, with an industry-leading 105 facilities that recycle, reuse or convert to energy all waste from daily operations. By recycling and reusing 90% of its manufacturing waste worldwide, the company generates about $1 billion in revenue annually. GM has reduced total waste 25 kilograms, or 55 pounds, per vehicle since 2010.



'during the 12-month period, renewable energy use decreased from 73 MW to 62.3 MW, as overall energy consumption dropped during this time period'


'In 2012, GM’s energy intensity per vehicle manufactured was 2.30 MWh per vehicle, down from 2.47 MWh/vehicle in 2010. The 2020 target is 1.97 MWh/vehicle.'

So the total GM renewable energy input is enough to produce around 30 cars?

Surely there is some mistake in the figures?


It's stunning what is technically and economically possible when customers refuse the 100 year, ~20 mpg status quo.

The 1998 Nissan Altra EV was Li-ion battery and the Toyota RAV4 EV, Prius were NiMH - like the 1999 GM EV1.

Wasting a dozen years is better than wasting indefinitely.


Sorry, I had a major brain lapse.
The renewable energy capacity is of course in MWs, so if they operated at full capacity then they would produce 8760 times the rated output in MWh, or 500,000MWh or so, enough for perhaps 250,000 cars at 2MWh per car.

That is nominal capacity, and for most renewables the capacity is fairly low, so we are talking about something under 100,000 cars being produced per year from renewable energy.
That is out of ~9 million cars a year which the General makes, or roughly one percent of energy used.

So as usual renewables are an ultra expensive distraction from actually dealing with the issue.

A couple of AP1000 nuclear reactors could offset the entire GM car production with almost zero carbon emissions.


If GM created a hybrid Cruze crossover, they would sell and get 40 MPG. They would sell a LOT more than Volt. You can not do good if no one will buy your good products.

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