Automotive electronic control units and software are pacing efficiency improvements in truck-based vehicles.
I attended a presentation to the New England Motor Press Association last evening by GMC (that's the truck arm of General Motors) Product Director Craig Bierley on the new 2007 Yukon SUV. After he outlined the technology improvements made to the vehicle, I thought they'd serve as the basis for a short blog.
Such vehicles are selling well despite the wave of high gas prices. Larger families still buy these, which also serve to haul their boats and trailers.
Technology improvements Bierley outlined for this coming model year include a drag coefficient of 0.363 (about the same as a 4th generation Corvette); Active Fuel Management (which used to be called Displacement on Demand, or shutting down up to four cylinders to save fuel); variable valve timing for greater optimization of the combustion cycle; an electric cooling fan that uses energy only when needed; and the ability to run on E85 (85%) ethanol, or any mixture of that fuel and gasoline.
Except for the lower drag, these improvements hinge on the availability of automotive electronic control units (ECUs) and software to sense and control functions that result in the 2007 Yukon having a mileage rating of 21.3 mpgbest in its class while providing the max power in the group as well.
And about 18 months down the road, Bierley says we'll be seeing a hybrid version of the vehicle.