GM Ventures confident of new fuel-saving technology

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GM Ventures is optimistic that its 2012 equity investment in Silicon Valley-based startup Tula Technology will result in a revolutionary new fuel economy technology that could be deployed in future gasoline engine-powered General Motors’ vehicles.

Tula’s Dynamic Skip Fire (DSF) technology integrates advanced digital signal processing with sophisticated powertrain controls to create a software-based approach to variable displacement engines. The result makes the most of vehicle fuel economy across a wide range of driving conditions.

Instead of relying on fixed cylinder deactivation or switching between fixed patterns like current multi-cylinder engines, Tula’s DSF technology continuously makes dynamic firing decisions on an individual cylinder basis to deliver the required engine torque for all vehicle speeds and loads while avoiding vibration.

Independent testing commissioned by Tula shows that the application of DSF technology can improve fuel efficiency in a multi-cylinder engine (4/6/8 cylinders) by as much as 15% when compared to a vehicle equipped with an engine that does not have cylinder deactivation.

“This technology holds the potential to improve fuel economy on select GM vehicles without degrading power capability when it’s required,” says Jon Lauckner, GM chief technology officer, vice president of global R&D and president of GM Ventures. “This joint effort combines software expertise from Silicon Valley with powertrain expertise from General Motors.”

Co-investors in Tula with GM Ventures include Sequoia Capital, Sigma Partners and Khosla Ventures. Since its founding in mid-2010, GM Ventures’ international portfolio includes investments in more than 20 startup companies.

“We’ve worked closely with GM during this exciting stage of DSF development, and they’ve provided essential financial support while allowing us to run our business with full autonomy,” says R. Scott Bailey, president and CEO of Tula Technology. “Our goal is the same as GM; we both innovate to make the lives of people better.”

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Dean has been with UKi Media & Events for over a decade, having previously cut his journalistic teeth writing and editing for various automotive and engineering titles. He combines extensive knowledge of all things automotive with a passion for driving, and experience testing countless new vehicles, engines and technologies around the world. As well as his role as editor-in-chief across a range of UKi's media titles, he is also co-chair of the judging panel of the International Engine of the Year Awards.

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