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Automaker Wind Tunnels Help Improve Fuel Efficiency - VIDEO STORY

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DETROIT - August 12, 2010: Engineers say there are three ways to improve a vehicle's gas mileage: reduce its weight, increase efficiency of the powertrain and improve the aerodynamics. This month General Motors is celebrating an important milestone in achieving better fuel economy, the 30th anniversary of the world's largest wind tunnel.

In response to the oil embargo of the 1970's and the introduction of the Federal Fuel Economy Standards, the automaker built the wind tunnel dedicated to the design and aerodynamic profile of automobiles. Powered by a 4,500 horsepower fan, the tunnel generates speeds up to 138 miles per hour during testing. They credit the tunnel for improving the aerodynamics of their passenger cars by 25%.

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In addition to developing the aerodynamic shapes of cars, the tunnel has also started working on noise reduction and measuring airflow. One of the latest advances is the new louver system, an innovative feature in the lower grill which opens and closes based on engine cooling needs. The system lowers the overall drag, increasing aerodynamic efficiency by 10% and significantly improving highway fuel economy. This new feature will soon be available on the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze Eco.