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Lighter GM Platforms Bring the Automaker Closer to Zero Emissions

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electric charge road sign
Weight reductions for cars translate to improved mileage
Photo: Pixabay

While it’s common for people to set New Year’s goals that involve weight loss, it’s not as common for vehicles to have this ambition. But shedding some weight is the goal GMC vehicles have for this year, as CEO Mary Barra recently revealed during a General Motors Capital Markets Day event.


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The process of lightening up

Mary Barra GM Recalls Nearly 50,000 Vehicles
Mary Barra continues to steer GM in a lighter, more eco-friendly direction
©GM

Barra articulated how the automaker is gradually reducing the weight of GM platforms, both to reduce emissions and to help prep certain models for future electric and autonomous variants. “We have removed an average of 350 pounds from each architecture for our new vehicle launches. This has reduced carbon emissions by about 312 metric tons per year,” she said.

Several GMC models have already lost some weight, according to GM Authority. The current Chevy Malibu is 346 pounds lighter than the previous generation. And the Chevy Equinox and Cruze are 425 pounds and 223 pounds lighter, respectively.

Looking towards the future

2020 Chevrolet Bolt EV
GM plans on lighter models to offset the heavier weight of EV batteries and boost fuel efficiency
Photo: Chevrolet

Lighter GMC models will help smooth the company’s transition to electric since EV and hybrid models require hefty batteries that significantly add to the vehicle’s overall weight. Having lighter platforms will make GM engineers’ jobs easier as they tweak EV models’ handling and fuel efficiency.

It turns out that for every 10 percent in weight reduction, a vehicle’s fuel economy increases 6-8 percent. Less bodyweight also enables engineers to equip a vehicle with a lighter, less powerful engine, which further reduces the overall weight.

On a side note, this will also bring GM one step closer to its Vehicle Set Strategy. Per GM Authority, the automaker aims to consolidate all of its platforms into just four vehicle sets within the next five years.


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