General Motors Chairman and CEO Dan Akerson

General Motors Chairman and CEO, Dan Akerson, announced earlier today at an energy conference that America is on the right track by cutting back on fuel consumption by developing domestic resources. The payoff to cutting the consumption suggests that all things may be considered possible once again.

With the surge of domestic production of oil and natural gas, it’s possible the U.S. could be an exporter of natural gas by 2020. “Net imports of energy could be cut roughly in half on a percentage basis by 2035. The impact on our trade deficit could be enormous,” said Dan Akerson in a recent interview.

Compared to 1975′s fuel consumption rating of 13 mpg, today’s average is up to 23 mpg. With a goal to increase fuel efficiency to 54.5 mpg by 2025, GM has outlined the steps it will take to try and reach this goal. Weight reduction is the first item on the list, with GM’s goal to cut 15 percent of curb weight from its vehicles. Akerson added at the conference that, “a good rule of thumb is that a 10 percent reduction in curb weight will reduce fuel consumption by about 6.5 percent.”

The plan is to use lighter materials like aluminum, nano steels, and carbon fiber. The next step is to enhance all internal combustion engines with turbochargers, direct injection, variable valve timing, and cylinder deactivation. The new C7 Chevrolet Corvette will feature the cylinder deactivation, instead of using a smaller powertrain. This will improve overall mileage without taking away any of the performance expected from a Corvette.

Electric vehicles, hybrids, natural gas, and diesel vehicles are also another means to produce energy-saving results. “In fact, we expect to have an estimated 500,000 vehicles on the road with some form of electrification by 2017,” said Akerson. With these goals in mind, GM sets itself up to be a bigger player in fuel-efficiency and sustainability.

Source: The Detroit Bureau, General Motors

By Megan Stewart