A green car with active aerodynamics
By Nauman Farooq
Green is the key word in the auto industry these days. Not only are consumers more sympathetic towards climate change and the effect cars have on our environment, with the price of gasoline going up every year, they don’t mind saving a little at every fill up.
So far the solutions towards getting better fuel economy have been restricted to diesel and hybrid powertrains, but Chevrolet has now come up with a rather ingenious, simple and cost effective method to achieve incredible fuel economy.
Chevrolet just showed their latest system at the 2010 New York International Auto Show, in their latest economy car, the Cruze Eco.
This model features a 138 hp, 1.4-liter, four-cylinder engine with variable-valve timing and a turbo charger. The idea is that the power is there from the turbo when you need it, but when cruising, this small displacement engine won’t be drinking much petrol.
The result is economy figures in the region of 5.8-liters/100 km. That is truly impressive, but it achieves this by not just a clever engine, but also clever aerodynamics. The Cruze is already a very slippery car, but the Eco model gets extra help from features like the “Aero Shutter.” This feature operates a flap in the bottom grille. In city driving, the flap is open, allowing as much air to circulate through the car as possible. But at highway speeds when there is enough air to cool the turbo, the flap closes to make the car more streamlined. These applications of active aerodynamics are a worlds first, and Chevrolet needs to be commended on this clever idea.
It has to be noted though that while the Cruze Eco will be available with a six-speed automatic gearbox, to achieve the economy figure mentioned above, you will have to have the six-speed manual version. The manual gearbox features an ultra tall sixth-gear, which helps keeps the revs down and hence keeps the consumption down too.
Also worth noting is that the Cruze Eco also features ultra-low resistance tires from Goodyear. And while these tires might cut down on rolling friction, they also don’t have much grip, so the Cruze Eco won’t be the ideal car to carve through a twisty mountain road.
The Cruze Eco will be available in the last quarter of this year, and while no exact Canadian pricing has been announced yet, you can bet it will be cheaper than even the cheapest hybrid on the market.