This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

February 13, 2002

Environmental Assessment: GM Falls Short on Fuel Efficiency

The first outside environmental assessment of General Motors Corporation (GM) has found that despite progress on many environmental fronts, GM has failed to improve the overall fuel economy of its fleet. The assessment was performed by the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (CERES) with the cooperation of GM, and the results were released in late January. Back in 1994, GM was the first Fortune 50 manufacturing company to endorse the CERES Principles, which include goals for protecting human health, natural resources, and the global environment. The environmental assessment is one requirement of companies that endorse the CERES Principles.

The CERES review did credit GM with increasing the fuel efficiency of its vehicles model-by-model, but concluded that increased sales of sport utility vehicles and trucks held steady the overall fuel efficiency of the GM fleet of cars and trucks. See the CERES press release.

With the emphasis on aluminum components in some high- efficiency cars, particularly the Honda Insight, you might think the steel industry would be averse to fuel-efficiency increases. If so, you'd be wrong. According to the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), advanced high-strength steels can help vehicles achieve five-star crash ratings while doubling fuel efficiencies, without increasing their cost. An AISI study developed conceptual vehicle designs using the high-strength steels and compared the vehicles' predicted performance to high-efficiency concept cars such as the GM Precept. The AISI conceptual vehicles achieved similar vehicle weights and fuel efficiencies at lower costs, according to the study. Computer simulations showed the vehicles would earn a five-star crash rating in U.S. tests. See the AISI press release.

Features