Full-size Pickup trucks aren't known for their high level of fuel-economy, but Pickuptrucks.com and Automotive News are reporting that General Motors is exploring a system that might allow its full-size pickups to get better mileage, without sacrificing power.
GM is testing a system that will allow the grille openings on trucks to open or close, depending on circumstances. Closing the grille could improve aerodynamics by redirecting airflow. Sensors would direct an electric motor on when to open and when to close the openings.
The new system could add a cost of $60 to $100 per vehicle for GM, and wind-tunnel testing is planned to begin soon. Ford may be considering a similar system for the next-generation F-Series.
It's hard to tell when a system like this could make it into production, but as of now, it's not available on the just-unveiled 2011 Chevrolet Silverado HD.
How much it could improve fuel economy is anyone's guess, but in this class, every little bit helps. Although heavy-duty trucks escape EPA fuel-economy testing, common sense tells us that these vehicles don't pass up many gas pumps. Fleet customers, especially, might appreciate anything that can cut into price pains at the gas pump, even if it costs a few extra bucks up front.
Any effort to improve gas mileage is to be applauded, but there is no way to know yet how well this system could work. Still, the idea of blocking airflow through the grill and redirecting it over the body could hold promise. We'll know just how promise it holds should the idea become reality in the near future.