The Auto Channel Brings You Innovation News: Advanced Tire Saves Big Bucks for Chevy Cruze Drivers
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DETROIT--May 4, 2011: With gas prices near or exceeding $4 a gallon, the efforts of GM engineers to boost fuel economy on the Chevrolet Cruze Eco compact are adding up.
GM tire development engineer Chuck Lantz and his team worked with tire manufacturers to produce an industry benchmark tire that boosts fuel efficiency by three miles per gallon on the Chevy Cruze Eco. That's about 38 extra miles on a tank of fuel and a savings of about $112 per year for the average driver.
"This tire is way beyond anything in its category," said Lantz. The Cruze Eco tires make use of special polymers built into the tread compound to reduce rolling resistance, which means less energy is required to keep the tire moving.
So what makes the tire unique? Typically, improving one facet of tire performance like rolling resistance requires sacrifices in other areas like traction in snow and stopping distance. Not so with the leading-edge Cruze Eco tires.
"Thanks to the high-tech polymers we used, we were able to create a high-MPG set of tires without making tradeoffs in other important areas like tire-braking traction and all-weather handling," said Lantz. "As far as the ride goes, these tires are as smooth as any tire on the road today."
The tires represent one of many fuel-saving technologies that help the Cruze Eco average 42 miles per gallon on the highway. With a starting suggested price of $19,175, Cruze Eco offers hybrid-like fuel economy without the premium price tag. Other innovations that make the Cruze an MPG standout include an air shutter system that morphs the aerodynamic profile of the vehicle to optimize fuel efficiency and energy-efficient rack-mounted electric power steering.
Lantz, an incurable tinkerer, grew up tearing apart and rebuilding childhood toys to figure out what made them tick.
"A curiosity about how things work is second nature to me," he said. "In my work, I'm always looking at how we can make things better for our customers."
Before joining General Motors, Lantz spent more than 20 years at a major tire manufacturer. "Back then, I worked with many automakers," said Lantz. "That experience taught me that GM knows more about tires than any other automaker by far."