The United States government has mandated that by 2025, automakers must achieve a Corpoate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) of 60 mpg. Before getting your knickers in a twist though, know that the CAFE standards translate into much, much lower “real world” fuel economy due to various provisions and loopholes. So that 60 mpg falls to about 43 mpg, which is still going to be tough, but not impossible, for automakers to achieve.
For GM, the path to meeting these fuel economy goals lies with electric cars, plug-in hybrids, and cylinder deactivation technology. The Truth About Cars reports that GM is readying an advanced version of its cylinder deactivation technology that could potentially turn the Corvette’s LT1 V8 into a two-cylinder fuel sipper. Seriously.
Called Dynamic Skip Fire, or DSF, the cylinder deactivation technology is being developed by a Silicon Valley company called Tula Technology, Inc., in conjunction with GM and Delphi. Where standard cylinder deactivation technologies (like the ones already found in some GM cars) usually shut down four pre-determined cylinders on an eight-cylinder engine, DSF is active on every cylinder and is constantly cycling. This resolves issues of heating and cooling the engine, but if the driver demands more power, DSF can easily activate more cylinders.
Considering the average SUV only requires about 30 hp to maintain highway driving speeds, DSF could shut down six of the SUV’s eight cylinders, improving highway fuel economy by as much as 21-percent. The 2015 Chevy Corvette already earned a respectable 29 mpg highway rating, but DSF could take its fuel economy well into the mid-30s. Most importantly to GM, DSF would only add about $300 to $600 to the cost of new vehicles, making it cost efficient, as well as fuel efficient.
While a two-cylinder Corvette might cause some to cringe, if DSF is what’s needed to keep production going, then we’re all for it.