General Motors SUVs and Fuel Cells

General Motors SUVs and Fuel Cells

2007_chevy_tahoe General Motors SUVs and Fuel Cells Alternative Fuels Automobiles and Energy Fuel cells GM Hydrogen Manufacturers Podcasts Technology


The large Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV) segment sales have been diminishing, yet General Motors brought out their new “GMT 900” for 2007, Why? The large SUV segment is incredibly profitably for General Motors.

General Motors has been slow getting to the hybrid market, saying instead that fuel cells are the way. GM has spent billions in research and development and has the most patents for fuel cell advancement of any automobile manufacturer. But General Motors needs money to continue their quest to the holy grail, fuel cells. Large SUVs are very, very good for General Motors.

According to Global Vice Chairman, Bob Lutz, “We own 62 percent of that segment. It is highly profitable for us. A couple of years ago we thought it would continue to grow, but realistically we know that is no longer going to happen. It is still large, especially because it is one in which we dominate.” Lutz expects to sell about 375,000 large SUVs of the 750,000 projected annual sales for next year.

Lutz boasts of sportier exterior designs, interiors, more powerful engines, major fuel savings and best in segment fuel economy. According to Nick Richards, GM Powertrain Communications, the Chevy Tahoe will get a combined mpg of 20.5. The old Tahoe got a combined mpg of 17. Will this make the difference in sales?

Large SUV sales have been dropping for the past two years, according to Paul Taylor, senior analyst of National Automobile Dealer Association (NADA). Both the Tahoe and the Cadillac Escalade sales have fallen off in 2005 as well. Taylor thinks it is time for General Motors to bring their newly designed SUVs out, Cylinder deactivation at cruise in gasoline engines is contributing to higher highway mileages in many vehicles.” The new large SUVs have Displacement on Demand (DOD), whereby the engine shuts down half the cylinders at optimum times, and a new 6-speed transmission that gives the new SUVs the 1-2 mpg jump.

According to Lutz, GM has four crossover vehicles (CUVs) and they make up fourteen percent of the marketshare of that segment. Expect fourteen crossovers total in the next couple of years.

General Motors brought out their Parallel Hybrid Truck system last year that was on 1,500 pickups, out of over 600,000 unit’s produces. They are supposed to bring out a two-mode hybrid system in 2007 in the Chevy Tahoe or GMC Yukon. They will not say how many they will be bringing out; whether it is another boutique niche or a substantial amount of hybrids. Part of the reason is that they wont start building the two-mode hybrids (which would give another 25 percent fuel efficiency) till 4th quarter of 2007, which is two years away.

Large SUV segment 2005 mpg

  • Buick Rainier – 15/20 mpg
  • Cadillac Escalade – 13/17 mpg
  • Cadillac Escalade ESV – 13/17 mpg
  • Chevy Suburban – 15/19 mpg
  • Chevy Tahoe – 15/19 mpg
  • Chevy Trailblazer – 15/20 mpg
  • Chevy Trailblazer EXT – 14/19 mpg
  • Dodge Durango – 16/21 mpg
  • Ford Expedition – 14/19 mpg
  • GMC Envoy – 16/21 mpg
  • GMC Envoy XUV – 15/19 mpg
  • GMC Envoy XL – 15/19 mpg
  • GMC Yukon XL – 14/19 mpg
  • GMC Yukon – 16/20 mpg
  • Lincoln Aviator 13/18 mpg
  • Lincoln Navigator – 13/18 mpg
  • Mercedes-Benz G Class – 13/14 mpg
  • Mercedes-Benz M Class 15/18 mpg
  • Mercury Mountaineer – 14/19 mpg
  • Nissan Pathfinder Armada – 13/18 mpg
  • Suzuki XL-7 – 17/22 mpg
  • Toyota Sequoia – 15/18 mpg 2007 General Motors SUV Line-up

    The Chevy Tahoe, GMC Yukon and Cadillac Escalade will be available for sale in the first quarter of 2006

    Chevy Suburban and Avalanche, GMC Yukon and Yukon XL Denali, Cadillac Escalade ESV and Escalade EXT are available in the second quarter of 2006

    They will be assembled in Arlington, Texas; Janesville, Wisconsin; Silao, Mexico.

    Engine offerings for the new SUVs include:

  • 4.8L iron block (RPO LY2), rated at 290 horsepower
  • 5.3L iron block (RPO LY5) with Displacement On Demand technology, rated at 320 horsepower (including E85-capable version “ RPO LMG)
  • 5.3L aluminum block (RPO LC9) with Displacement On Demand technology and E85 capability, rated at 320 horsepower
  • 6.0L iron block (LY6) heavy-duty engine with variable valve timing, rated at 350 horsepower
  • 6.0L aluminum block (L76) with Displacement On Demand technology and variable valve timing, rated at 355 horsepower
  • 6.2L aluminum block (L92) with variable valve timing, capable of 380 and 400 horsepower
  • chevy_6speed General Motors SUVs and Fuel Cells Alternative Fuels Automobiles and Energy Fuel cells GM Hydrogen Manufacturers Podcasts Technology

    About the Author:

    Lou Ann Hammond is the CEO of Carlist and Driving the Nation. She is the co-host of Real Wheels Washington Post carchat every Friday morning and is the Automotive, energy correspondent for The John Batchelor Show and a Contributor to Automotive Electronics magazine headquartered in Korea. Hammond is a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year (NACTOY), Women's World Car of the Year (WWCOTY), and the Concept Car of the Year.

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