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GM Plans To Cut Vehicle Weight Up to 15% by 2017

General Motors hopes to save as much as 12 billion gallons of fuel over the life of the vehicles it builds between 2011 and 2017 through reducing vehicle weight by up to 15 percent and other fuel efficiency upgrades, the company’s CEO Dan Akerson said at last week’s HIS CERAWeek energy conference.

The automotive company will incorporate lighter materials, including aluminum, nano steels and carbon fiber into certain vehicle parts. Akerson said GM’s new Cadillac ATS, the brand’s first North American Car of the Year, is actually lighter than a comparable BMW 3-Series.

Akerson said from 2005 to 2010, GM reduced its energy intensity per vehicle produced by 28 percent and has committed to achieving a 20 percent decrease in its global carbon footprint by 2020. He said the company recently received the EPA’s 2013 Energy Star Partner of the Year “Sustained Excellence” award and also has set a goal to have 125 landfill-free facilities by 2025.

“Through these activities we generate $1 billion in annual revenue, and in 2011 alone, we diverted 2.5 million metric tons of waste from landfills, which is the equivalent of 38 million garbage bags,” said Akerson.

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The company is committed to putting 500,000 electric vehicles on the road by 2017, Akerson continued. This includes cars with start-stop systems, hybrids and pure electric vehicles.

The CEO called for President Barrack Obama to develop a 30-year national energy policy exploring all forms of energy, but focusing on reducing carbon emissions and shrinking the trade deficit with other nations. He advocated for increased usage of natural gas in motor fuel, noting a typical 5,000-vehicle light-duty fleet could save at least $10 million each year over traditional fuel.

GM currently recycles or reuses 90 percent of its worldwide manufacturing waste and its vehicles are on average 85 percent recyclable by weight at the end of their useful life, according to the company’s website.

GM is not the only American automaker striving to reduce waste. Ford recently announced plans to reduce the amount of waste it sends to the landfill by 40 percent per vehicle over a five-year period from 2011 to 2016.


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