GM to produce Plug-in Hybrid SUV
General Motors Corp. intends to produce a Saturn Vue Green Line plug-in hybrid that has the potential to achieve double the fuel efficiency of any current SUV, the automaker announced at the Greater Los Angeles Auto Show.
This hybrid SUV will use a modified version of GM’s 2-mode hybrid system and plug-in technology, a Lithium Ion battery pack when ready, highly efficient electronics and powerful electric motors to achieve significant increases in fuel economy.
“GM has begun work on a Saturn Vue plug-in hybrid production vehicle,” said Rick Wagoner, GM Chairman and CEO. “The technological hurdles are real, but we believe they are also surmountable. I can’t give you a production date for our plug-in hybrid today. But I can tell you that this is a top priority program for GM, given the huge potential it offers for fuel-economy improvement.”
A plug-in hybrid-electric vehicle differs from non-plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles by offering extended electric-only propulsion, additional battery capacity and the ability to be recharged from an external electrical outlet.
The Saturn Vue Green Line plug-in hybrid is expected to offer electric-only propulsion for more than 10 miles. At higher speeds or when conditions demand it, such as brisk acceleration, a combination of engine and electric power or engine power only will propel the vehicle.
In addition to plug-in capabilities and the modified 2-mode hybrid system, the Saturn Vue Green Line hybrid SUV’s powertrain will feature Lithium Ion battery technology, two interior permanent magnet motors and GM’s 3.6L V-6 gasoline engine with direct injection.
When ready for production, the Lithium Ion energy storage system will be replenished when the battery charge is depleted to a specified level by utilizing the 2-mode hybrid system’s electric motors and regenerative braking systems. When the vehicle is parked, the battery can be recharged using a common household exterior 110-volt plug-in outlet.
The 2-mode hybrid system will be altered for use with plug-in technology. It maintains two driving modes – one for city driving, the other for highway driving – and four fixed mechanical gears to maximize efficiency while maintaining performance. In addition, special controls will be utilized to enable higher speeds during electric-only propulsion and maintain electric-only propulsion for longer periods of time.
The Saturn Vue Green Line SUV, featuring the modified 2-mode hybrid system with plug-in capabilities, is part of GM’s ambitious effort to offer consumers a broad choice of hybrid systems at various levels of affordability:
- This year, the GM Hybrid system, an affordable belt-alternator starter hybrid technology, debuted in the Vue Green Line front-wheel-drive SUV.
- In 2007, the GM Hybrid system will expand to the Saturn Aura Green Line and Chevrolet Malibu front-wheel-drive midsize sedans.
- In 2007, the 2-mode hybrid system will debut in the Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon full-size SUVs. Rear-wheel and four-wheel drive will be offered.
- In 2008, the 2-mode hybrid system will expand to the Cadillac Escalade full-size SUV and the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra crew cab full-size pickups. The Escalade will offer all-wheel drive, while the Silverado and Sierra will offer rear-wheel and four-wheel drive.
- In 2008, the first front-wheel-drive application of the 2-mode hybrid system, will debut – without plug-in technology – in the Vue Green Line. The Vue Green Line will offer customers a choice of the GM Hybrid system or the 2-mode hybrid system.
- In 2009, an electric all-wheel-drive, 2-mode hybrid system will be introduced in the Vue Green Line.
“GM plans to introduce a new hybrid system annually for the next several years, each offering different levels of affordability, fuel savings and performance,” said Tom Stephens, GM group vice president, GM Powertrain. “This strategy will allow more consumers to benefit from our hybrid technologies, while providing the opportunity to reduce our country’s petroleum consumption.”
GM is committed to a comprehensive and cost-effective, three-tiered advanced propulsion technology strategy focused on producing commercially viable and sustainable products. These include alternative fuel vehicles, ongoing improvements to conventional internal combustion engines and transmissions, the electrification of the automobile through a broad portfolio of hybrid models on high-volume car and truck platforms, and commercially viable hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.