General Motors announced it will improve fuel mileage by as much as 7% on its full-size pickups and sport-utility vehicles through a combination of aerodynamic changes and a cut in weight. The changes, which will appear on vehicles labeled XFE, should arrive at dealers in the fourth quarter.

The changes for the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups, as well as the Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon SUVs, will encompass more aluminum parts to save weight and use tires that produce less friction on the road to reduce fuel consumption, GM said. The pickups will provide the same towing capacity as the non-XFE versions.

GM is also introducing hybrid versions of the Silverado and Sierra.

“We are pulling out all the stops to deliver a more efficient package for customers who need the capability of full-size pickups and SUVs and want the very best fuel economy,” said Gary White, GM's vehicle line executive for full-size trucks.

GM's sales fell 18% in July with light truck sales dropping 23%, contributing to a $15.5 billion second-quarter loss.

Meanwhile, Toyota announced it is considering exporting some of its U.S.-made trucks, including the full-size Tundra, in efforts to reduce inventory. Faced with a 15% decline in truck sales in July, the automaker, which has cut temporary jobs and has idled its $1.2 billion San Antonio, TX, truck plant, built last year, for three months, is evaluating more job cuts. The Tundra and Sequoia SUVs are built exclusively in the U.S.

Ford posted an $8.7 billion second-quarter loss and has delayed the introduction of its 2009 F-150 for two months as it tries to unload excess truck inventory.