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Old 01-11-2010, 02:45 PM   #1 (permalink)
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GM Lab Eco Initiative: investigating the "bare necessity" car & truck

I cringe as I post this because I realize GM's "investigation" is as much (maybe/probably more) about marketing an image of themselves as it is about actual product development.

So, if somewhere, a marketer at GM just smiled, I apologize.

But I still found the idea interesting, so here it is.

GM has spent time studing what would constitute a "bare bones" car and truck, the goal being a low total cost of ownership (the implication that best fuel economy is not the be all / end all).

They suggest they're talking to US customers to find out what they want, but I think if they ever produce anything remotely like these, it will more likely be for the rapidly expanding Chinese and Indian markets, not North America.

Then again, if Tata makes good on its promise to bring a US-spec Nano over here, the big players had better have a "stripper" up their sleeves to compete.

Without further ado...


Bare Necessity Car

We knew from our research that people wanted an extremely efficient vehicle that was also low-cost and green. But what was really eye-opening to me was that people seemed to desire extreme efficiency even if it meant making small sacrifices/trade-offs. The idea of a back-to-basics, bare-necessity approach to designing a vehicle made sense.
So I had two questions:
How can we design an optimally efficient vehicle? I mean really, what does that even mean?
What are people willing to trade off for efficiency’s sake?

Read more: http://thelab.gmblogs.com/category/e...necessity-car/


Bare Necessity Truck

This project is a real challenge. The people I spoke with used their trucks for EVERYTHING!
We talked to truck owners who were taking personal responsibility for the environment. They were cleaning up city parks, converting their homes to solar power, taking on real projects to do their part. These projects demanded a truck. Their current trucks got less than 20 mpg. They wanted a better way to get the job done without burning so much fuel.

Read more: Bare Necessity Truck

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Old 01-11-2010, 05:53 PM   #2 (permalink)
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"They suggest they're talking to US customers to find out what they want"
Whoa now , let's not go overboard here.

"So I had two questions:
How can we design an optimally efficient vehicle? I mean really, what does that even mean?'
Ahh , maybe you better find out before you competitors do.

With that attitude I am not surprised they went belly up.
Good grief , I am astounded to be reading this these days and especially so from a company like GM.

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Old 01-11-2010, 06:08 PM   #3 (permalink)
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The reversible rear cabin bulkhead on the eco/simple-truck is an eye opener.
Big bed when it's needed, or large interior volume with 4/5 seating positions
when needed...

Slick, but no inherent fuel savings there.

Taking the reversal idea a little farther, into the realm of aerodynamics and
fuel efficiency, what about a reversible, truly aerodynamic bed cap that
reversed into, or more likely clam-shelled around, the load bearing bed deck
and into the bed side walls.

High FE when the the truck is empty or has a small load, unrestricted height
when that is needed.

The folding/reversing mechanism to do something like this would be complex, but the multi-part removable hard tops that are on the market show that it could be done... or are those only on European cars?
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Old 01-11-2010, 06:22 PM   #4 (permalink)
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It's marketing tripe. The guys with the brains already know and have known the answers to these questions.

Hell, the questions were answered 100 years ago:


Last edited by Frank Lee; 01-11-2010 at 07:05 PM..
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Old 01-11-2010, 06:40 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Those "bare necessities" cars were from several years ago. The new Spark is the only thing that even relates to the old bare necessity cars. Nowadays making a good, reliable, and cheap car is tough. The Chevy Aveo base is the nearest, and not many people like them.
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Old 01-11-2010, 07:14 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by KITT222 View Post
The Chevy Aveo base is the nearest, and not many people like them.
Geo Metro.

Those cars will never happen. A 6 foot bed is no an effective work truck. How did they plan on shrinking the truck? The animation shows a truck (in relation to the size of the plywood) that is about the same size as my Dodge Dakota. (Which BTW, gets 20mpg highway) I really want Government Motors to die, or at least truly listen.
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Old 01-12-2010, 07:54 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Old 01-12-2010, 10:11 AM   #8 (permalink)
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The cars they have cooked up in this program seem pretty lame-o. Some of the concepts they showed (and they surely were showing what they thought are the best!) are downright fugly, and there were zero innovations mentioned. Wow, they need to have a fire lit under their butts. They should just improve the HHR?

They need to study actual successful small cars: the original Mini, the Toyota iQ, the Honda Fit, the Tata Nano -- all of these have something innovative that adds real function and value to the design.

The truck is also strange -- if you need absolutely need a truck, why do they insist on throwing in the rear seats? Give us a Tacoma from the late 90's and be done with it. Another take would be to have a built in AeroLid, and have removable rear seats?
Sincerely, Neil

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Old 01-12-2010, 12:52 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by NeilBlanchard View Post
Give us a Tacoma from the late 90's and be done with it.
Even the late '90s is going too far. Bring back the Toyota Sport Truck from the mid-70s, or its Datsun counterpart. Owned one when I was working construction back then, would load it full of boxes of ceramic tile & mortar, and drive to the job site on not a lot of gas.
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Old 01-12-2010, 02:17 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by MadisonMPG View Post
A 6 foot bed is no an effective work truck. How did they plan on shrinking the truck?
This vehicle doesn't directly answer that question, but look at the shape of the cab/hood...

suzuki x head - Google Search

Kinda cool little runabout truck if they could remove some of the "X-TREME" from it, simplify it some...

Work From Home mod has saved more fuel than everything else put together.
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