2019 Chevrolet Silverado 1500, 2018 Detroit auto show
It looks like GM's investment arm, GM Ventures, has borne some real-world, fuel-saving fruit.
Sophisticated engine-control algorithms under the hood of the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado full-size pickup truck, which make the truck's V-8 engines more efficient, came from work done by a company in which GM invested several years ago.
In 2012, GM Ventures sank an undisclosed amount of cash into Tula Technology, a Silicon Valley startup that had developed software to provide a more flexible way to deactivate individual cylinders under varying power demands.
In the outgoing generation of GM full-size pickups, cylinder deactivation can reduce the number of cylinders used from eight to four to save fuel.
However, the technology from Tula gives powertrain engineers the ability to vary the number of active cylinders from one to eight.
Tula's "Dynamic Skip Fire" technology couldn't be possible without the power of the latest processors for automotive computing.
Tula Technology's Dynamic Skip Fire
At the time of its investment, GM said the software would boost fuel economy by as much as 15 percent over engines without cylinder deactivation.
Tula's technology—now called Dynamic Fuel Management—will be used on the two V-8 engines announced so far for the 2019 Chevy Silverado, though not on the new 3.0-liter inline-6 turbodiesel also announced.
The company said at its launch the 2019 truck would have six engines and transmissions, though it gave details only on those three engines and a new 10-speed automatic transmission.
GM has used several other fuel-saving tricks in its trucks, including a spoiler atop the trailing edge of the cab roof and vents ahead of the front wheel wells that smooth the airflow around the front wheels.
The vehicles have also shed an impressive 450 pounds over comparably equipped versions of the outgoing Silverado generation, Chevy said when it showed the trucks before last week's Detroit auto show media days.
While GM has not committed to electrifying its new full-size pickup truck, the other two Detroit truck manufacturers have.
2019 Chevrolet Silverado
2019 Chevrolet Silverado 'aero curtain' in front fender
2019 Chevrolet Silverado Roof and Tailgate Spoiler
For 2019, Fiat-Chrysler will introduce a mild-hybrid system on its Ram 1500 pickup for both V-6 and V-8 gas models—although not its 3.0-liter V-6 EcoDiesel.
The same 48-volt hybrid system will be used on the next-generation Jeep Wrangler as well.
And Ford, which just revealed a new 3.0-liter V-6 Power Stroke diesel engine for the F-150, will also bring a hybrid to market sometime in the near future.
While GM Ventures invested in Tula Technologies in 2012, that investment was not publicly disclosed until 2015.
EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this article said Tula Technologies was purchased in 2012 by General Motors. In fact, GM is one of five investors in the company, which remains a private and independent entity. We apologize for the error.