By Katie LaBarre
The Chevrolet Cruze has made headlines for its above-average fuel economy, especially for its fuel-sipping Eco model. But GM, Chevrolet’s parent company, has announced that to make the Cruze Eco even more fuel efficient it must dropped pounds wherever possible. One thing to go was the Cruze’s spare tire. According to a GM press release, the 2011 Cruze Eco w ill not come standard with a traditional compact spare tire and wheel. Instead, Chevrolet will replace the spare tire, wheel and jack with an on-board tire inflator kit, which the automaker says will be able to re-pressurize tires and inject a sealant to close up any puncture holes.

Replacing the spare tire, wheel and jack with the small electric reinflator shaves 26 pounds. “It might not sound like a lot — a lot of us lose more weight than that just dieting — but over time, less poundage is one of the ways that the Cruze Eco version is able to get 42 miles a gallon on the highway,” writes USA Today.

Though the Cruze’s fuel economy is one of its main selling points, you may wonder if this weight loss is worth losing the peace of mind that a spare tire provides. Chevrolet says the tire inflator kit will be able to handle most problems, and in case of a serious blowout, drivers can always use the OnStar system to call for roadside assistance. “Getting rid of something as important as the spare tire wasn’t a decision we made lightly,” said Terry Connolly, GM director of Tire and Wheel Systems. “The universal implementation of tire pressure monitoring systems over the past five years has significantly reduced the likelihood that a flat tire will leave you stranded by the side of the road.”

Risk-averse Cruze shoppers can still opt for the “donut spare” if they’re concerned about being left high and dry, but they’ll have to pay more for it. “Cruze buyers who abide by the principles of Murphy’s Law can always spend an extra $100 to opt for a conventional compact spare tire and wheel on virtually every trim — even on the fuel-conscious Cruze Eco model,” reports Automobile Magazine.

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