I Used to Have a V-8
General Motors — last year dubbed “Global Warmer Number One” by Environmental Defense — is taking small steps to clean up its vehicle fleet, not to mention its image. The company has announced that it will add new gas-saving technology to most of its SUVs and pickup trucks by 2008, beginning with three SUV models next year. The “displacement on demand” technology, which can be used with six- or eight-cylinder engines, automatically turns off some cylinders when less power is needed, thereby improving fuel economy by about 8 percent. Enviros are not impressed, arguing that automakers could be producing SUVs that get 40 miles to the gallon using other existing technologies. With an eye toward the long range, GM is developing its Hy-wire car, which runs on hydrogen fuel cells, but that technology won’t hit showrooms for 10 to 20 years. In the meantime, GM last week shipped three road-ready fuel-cell minivans to Washington, D.C., where they’ll be loaned to members of Congress.