By Joseph Lichterman, Crain staff (AN)
Detroit, Michigan -- As automakers try to produce cars consumers want to buy in light of higher gas prices, the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze Eco was built deliberately without a spare tyre to make the vehicles lighter and more fuel efficient.
Instead of a spare tyre, the Cruze features a tyre-inflator kit that makes the vehicle 26 pounds (12 kg) lighter , and more fuel efficient, than if it had a traditional spare tyre and jack, Chevrolet said in a statement.
Other current General Motors models without a spare tyre include the Volt, Camaro and the Cadillac CTS. Inflator kits were also used in the 2001 Corvette Z06.
The Cruze averages 42 mpg on the highway and 28 mpg in the city , according to Environmental Protection Agency estimates.
Terry Connolly, the director of GM's Tire and Wheel Systems, said in the statement that GM decided to remove spare tyres from the Cruze because, as technology has improved, flat tyres have become less common.
â€œGetting rid of something as important as the spare tyre wasn't a decision we made lightly,â€ Connolly said. â€œThe universal implementation of tyre pressure monitoring systems over the past five years has significantly reduced the likelihood that a flat tyre will leave you stranded by the side of the road.â€
The OnStar system, equipped in all GM vehicles, also made the decision to ditch the spare tyre easier, GM spokesman Sam Abuelsamid said. OnStar provides its subscribers with access to immediate roadside assistance.
So, instead of changing the flat tyre, Cruze drivers will have to take the tyre-inflator kit out of their trunk, plug it into the 12-volt socket inside the car and then re-inflate the tyre. If the tyre was punctured, the inflator can plug up holes in the tread of up to .25 inches in diameter by injecting sealant into the tyre.
Gene Peterson, a senior engineer at Consumer Reports who oversees the publication's tyre testing, said in a telephone interview that he wasn't enamored with tyre-inflator kits. Peterson said the sealant that comes with the kits can only fix small punctures in the tread of the tyre - not the tyre's sidewall.
Peterson added that unlike spare tyres, drivers need to replace the sealant-fixed tyres soon after making the repairs, something that some drivers may not be inclined to do.
The tyres could re-puncture and damage the wheel of the car if not replaced quickly, which could result in, what Peterson called, â€œa muddy situation.â€
From Automotive News (A Crain publication)
Press release from GM