Friday, July 13, 2007

Fuel rules scrap some GM concept cars

Tuesday, July 03, 2007
Fuel rules scrap some GM concept cars
John D. Stoll / Dow Jones Newswires

DETROIT -- General Motors Corp. Product Chief Bob Lutz said the company has killed some of its concept-car ideas because of an increased emphasis on fuel economy and sensitivity over the automaker's public image.

Lutz, speaking during a video podcast on the company's Web site released over the weekend, said GM has "arranged our priorities on now getting more fuel efficient, (and) spending a lot more money on alternative(s)."

Those alternatives include hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles, and hybrid-electric vehicles with a battery that can be recharged by plugging in. Congress is debating fuel-economy legislation that would boost requirements significantly.

Lutz said it is challenging to make certain show cars a reality when operating "in an era where everybody is talking about 36 miles per gallon by 2017 and 4 percent (increase) a year after that.

"Something had to give at the other end," Lutz said, referring to the company's decision not to build meaty sedans such as the Cadillac Sixteen super-luxury car concept, and the Buick Velite roadster and instead focus on more fuel-efficient technologies. "We had to prioritize" and the Velite "got prioritized out."

GM's move to become more fuel-efficient in its product line has eaten up considerable investment in current and longer-term technologies, and has come following years of criticism related to the its product line.

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