Unique air shutter helps morph Chevrolet Cruze into 40 MPG leader (w/ Video)

Aug 11, 2010
Exploded view of the air shutter system in the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze which uses sensors to feel and sense wind and temperature conditions. The sensors work with electric motors that open and close shutters automatically, contributing nearly half a mile per gallon in combined city and highway driving.

Squeezing out every last drop of fuel efficiency is one of the key tasks for Greg Fadler, aerodynamics engineering group manager at Chevrolet.

Fadler and his team worked on making the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze Eco one of the most fuel-efficient small cars on the market, achieving up to an estimated 40 MPG on the highway - hybrid-like efficiency without the hybrid cost.

Engineers used some of the proven approaches to making the Cruze Eco a gas sipper, trimming its overall weight and lowering the ride height. But the real innovation is behind the front grill where an automatic air shutter system allows the car to change shape and cut through the air more smoothly.

The air shutter system uses sensors to feel and sense wind and temperature conditions. The sensors are married to electric motors that open and close the shutters automatically. With the shutters closed at high speeds, wind drag is reduced. At lower speeds, the shutters open to maximize engine-cooling air flow. The air shutter system contributes nearly half a mile per gallon in combined city and highway driving.

The cooling systems for all GM vehicles are designed for the worst-case scenario, which is pulling a trailer up a grade in Death Valley. The shutter allows them to significantly improve , while still providing the cooling needed in that extreme case.

“The real fun of the job is when we discover something new or innovative that allows us to do something better than we or our competition has done before,” Fadler said.

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User comments : 15

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Au-Pu
2 / 5 (1) Aug 11, 2010
Perhaps the next phase is to totally alter the shape of a motor vehicle?
zevkirsh
1 / 5 (1) Aug 11, 2010
chevy. ...
DocM
5 / 5 (1) Aug 11, 2010
Just FYI: the Detroit News is reporting that GM will file for an IPO on Friday and that the govt. will be ending its 61% stake in the company.
Atherophage
5 / 5 (4) Aug 11, 2010
Looks like another very expensive gadget to repair.
A no-frills car (crank windows, no electric locks, manual trans, no power steering), whoa, now there's a light vehicle: cheap and easy to fix.
CHollman82
2 / 5 (4) Aug 11, 2010
Looks like another very expensive gadget to repair.
A no-frills car (crank windows, no electric locks, manual trans, no power steering), whoa, now there's a light vehicle: cheap and easy to fix.


If you're poor...

Some people's time is worth more than they pay mechanics to fix such things.
robbor
5 / 5 (1) Aug 12, 2010
go electric
Arikin
5 / 5 (1) Aug 12, 2010
But it is still using a non-renewable fuel source that pollutes. Whether sipping or guzzling it still has the same dependency.
Tenormech
5 / 5 (1) Aug 12, 2010
"Up to" 40 MPG on the highway? Is that meant to mean a maximum or is it an average? I've had "up to" 44 MPG with my 92 Corolla, but I sure don't average 40. Is this a heavier and more powerful car, and thus in a different class? If this car was produced in 2010, it would be good to know how great the improvement was.
anonperson
5 / 5 (1) Aug 12, 2010
"The real fun of the job is when we discover something new or innovative that allows us to do something better than we or our competition has done before,” Fadler said.

Would have been nice if the board of directors had had that attitude...
fewjr56
5 / 5 (1) Aug 12, 2010
I owned a Plymouth Duster in 1982 that got 42 - 44 mpg on the highway everyday - not fancy, not hi-tech, but great gas mileage - all these claims and wranglings these days are bunk! Bunk to push up the price of cars!
trekgeek1
5 / 5 (1) Aug 12, 2010
Looks like another very expensive gadget to repair.
A no-frills car (crank windows, no electric locks, manual trans, no power steering), whoa, now there's a light vehicle: cheap and easy to fix.


You aren't forced to buy it, go buy a cheap car. If you are scared your fuel injectors, air-conditioning, ABS, Auto transmission, airbags, etc will fail and cost money, then opt out with a cheap car. Many of us are comfortable accepting that new technologies will break, as old tech does, but are willing to brave it in the hopes that they will operate sufficiently and improve. Chevy also gives a 10 year 100,000 mile warranty.
COCO
1 / 5 (1) Aug 13, 2010
too bad the average incipid offerings from the moribund Amerikan car makers only last a few years - perhaps the Chevy Clunker would better represent these wonders.
rgwalther
5 / 5 (1) Aug 14, 2010
too bad the average incipid offerings from the moribund Amerikan car makers only last a few years - perhaps the Chevy Clunker would better represent these wonders.

Pseudonyms are great! Show real style. I think COCO is pronounced cookoo.
jerryd
5 / 5 (1) Aug 14, 2010
My Harley size EV trike only has a few moving parts and gets 600mpg equivalent.

My next 2 seat aero cabin MC EV will get the same at 70mph and 80-100 mile range on a small lead battery pack.

The Nissan Leaf EV will get about 120mpge. In 8-10 yrs it will pay for itself in fuel savings.

The Cruze is nice but in 5 yrs will be obsolete as battery dominated hybrids and EV's with rental/small generators rule as gas will be $8-10/gal. $4.50-5/gal late next yr.
dirk_bruere
not rated yet Aug 16, 2010
I *average* 56mpg in my VW Golf Diesel