Has GM really become the green car company its Super Bowl ads claimed? That’s the question Rick Newman posed in this U.S. News & World Report article, and the answer, according to the article, is: sorta. GM is rolling out its new hybrid, the GMC Yukon, which is the first big SUV to run on gas and electricity and will average 20 mpg. But, Newman notes, it’s so expensive that GM knows it’s going to sell just a small number. And it’s other hybrids, such as the Chevy Malibu and Saturn Vue, offer just a limited improvement in gas mileage.
The flex-fuel issue. GM has installed inexpensive add-ons to many of its vehicles so that the engines can run on any blend of gas and ethanol, but it did so, according to Newman, to earn federal credits that ease its fleetwide mpg. And ethanol isn’t widely available, so the market for these cars is still going to be small. GM’s CEO, Rick Wagoner, recently called for 15,000 more ethanol stations across the country.
GM has high hopes for the electric Chevy Volt, due in 2010, but Newman notes that a lot could wrong to delay the release of that car. Other technologies, such as they hydrogen-powered car, are still a long way from being viably affordable.