GM Projects Summer Release for Bi-Fuel Chevy Impala

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General Motors Co. will build a Chevrolet Impala sedan that operates on either gasoline or compressed natural gas, with a 2015 model for retail and fleet customers arriving next summer, Dan Akerson, chairman and CEO of GM, announced Wednesday.

During the energy summit marking the 40th anniversary of the OPEC Oil Embargo, Akerson said the bi-fuel Impala is an example of using affordable technology to reduce oil consumption and save consumers money at the pump.

“We know that U.S. energy security won’t come from a one-off moon shot,” Akerson said in a statement. “It will flow from our systematic investment in technology and innovation… our drive to get more from existing energy sources and renewables … our commitment to conservation … and it will be assured by fully and safely exploiting our shale gas reserves.”    

Thus far, the vehicle will be the only manufacturer-produced full-size bi-fuel sedan in North America. With a projected range of up to 500 miles, the sedan will feature a factory-engineered and fully warranted powertrain that switches seamlessly from CNG to gasoline. CNG vehicles typically have 20 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than gasoline-powered cars, according to the California Air Resources Board.  

Akerson said that in addition to advanced technologies and alternative fuels, achieving energy security will require productive partnerships between energy companies, utilities, environmental groups, labor unions, universities, and manufacturers.

GM is working closely with 14 of the country’s largest unions and environmental groups through the Blue-Green Alliance, and has relationships with regulators that are “more constructive than ever,” he said.

Akerson also reiterated a call he made earlier this year for the federal government to create a new, consumer-driven national energy policy from a position of strength and abundance.

For its part, GM is committed to saving 12 billion gallons of gasoline in its 2011 to 2017 model year vehicles — offsetting nearly a year of crude imports from the Persian Gulf  — with technologies that include lighter materials to reduce vehicle mass, alternative fuels, clean diesel, and electrification.

In addition to the Chevrolet Volt, Chevrolet Spark EV, and the upcoming Cadillac ELR, GM is offering standard start-stop technology on the 2014 Chevrolet Malibu, which will help the midsize sedan achieve 25 mpg city/36 mpg highway. The automaker also offers electrification to boost fuel economy in the Buick Regal and LaCrosse sedans, which both get EPA-estimated 36 mpg.

In other GM news, the automaker has teamed up with Capitol One and MasterCard to offer a new GM Card, which offers consumers 5 percent earnings toward a new Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, or Cadillac on their first $5,000 worth of net card purchases annually, and an unlimited 2 percent on all other purchases. The card has no annual fee, no limit on rewards consumers can accumulate, and the rewards don’t expire.

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