GM Slows Cruze to Wait for Engine

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With consumers so concerned about fuel economy, why is General Motors waiting two years to bring out the Chevrolet Cruze, the replacement for the compact Chevy Cobalt?

“We’re waiting on the new world car because that gives us time to develop the 1.4-liter turbocharged four-cylinder for it,” Bob Lutz, GM vice chairman and head of global product development, said at a Chicago preview of GM’s 2009 model lineup. “We expect to get more than 40 mpg highway, better than with some hybrids.”

“The 1.4-liter is going to be more high torque than high horsepower: high torque at the low end for power takeoffs and quick acceleration while still getting high mileage,” Lutz said. “The 1.4 liter goes on sale in Europe in a couple weeks.” The Cruze is expected to be available at the end of 2010 for the 2011 model year.

Lutz wouldn’t say if the 1.4-liter engine in the new world car would be available in other GM offerings in the future.

Until the Cruze arrives, Chevy will offer a new 2009 Cobalt XFE (extra fuel economy) that boasts 37 mpg highway with its 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine and teamed with a five-speed manual, he said.

“It will get better mileage than the compact Honda Civic as well as the even smaller Toyota Yaris and Honda Fit,” Lutz said.

To ensure high mileage, the Cobalt XFE will shut off the flow of fuel to the engine whenever the driver lifts his foot off the gas pedal. It will also incorporate higher air pressure tires for less-rolling resistance.

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