By Tom Stephens
Group Vice President GM Powertrain
As Rick Wagoner announced this morning at the Geneva auto show, we have a strong new addition to our portfolio of hybrid technologies. The next-generation GM Hybrid system is an affordable hybrid option that will be nearly three times more powerful than the one currently found on the Saturn Vue Green Line, the Saturn Aura Green Line and the Chevy Malibu Hybrid.
We’ll introduce the system in North America in 2010, where you may eventually see it in more than 100,000 of our vehicles annually. The new system is based on a lighter but more powerful lithium-ion battery than the nickel metal hydride one we use today. The lithium-ion battery will be supplied by Hitachi and is paired with a new motor generator to provide more electric assist for a longer period of time. That will increase fuel economy and reduce CO2 emissions. Those two goals, as you know, go hand in hand, because burning less fuel puts less CO2 into the air.
As in the current GM Hybrid system, it is belt-alternator-starter hybrid technology. The GM Hybrid system is and will remain the most affordable of our hybrid options. We’re showing the next-gen hybrid system in Geneva with a Saab 9-X BioHybrid concept vehicle, equipped with a turbocharged 1.4-liter engine with FlexFuel capability. While we have no current plans to build that concept, we do anticipate offering the next-gen hybrid system with a wide range of engines and vehicles, and a six-speed automatic transmission in some applications.
Another of our hybrid options is the highly capable rear-wheel drive 2-Mode Hybrid, found in our Chevy Tahoe and GMC Yukon Hybrids, and starting this year, in the Cadillac Escalade, Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra crewcabs.Later this year we’ll also begin selling the first front-wheel drive variant of the 2-Mode Hybrid in the 2009 Saturn Vue Green Line.
The next few years will see many new options in our gas-friendly portfolio: In January, we announced that the Saturn Vue will be offered as a plug-in hybrid, possibly as early as 2010, becoming the most fuel-efficient SUV on the market. We’re hard at work on our E-Flex extended-range electric vehicle program with the Chevy Volt. And we’ll have more than 100 fuel cell Chevrolet Equinox SUVs in normal consumers’ driveways this year, so that they can be thoroughly tested under everyday driving conditions. These fuel-cell-powered SUVs use pure hydrogen for fuel and emit only water as exhaust.
Let there be no doubt that we at GM remain committed to increasing the fuel efficiency and reducing the CO2 emissions of all our vehicles. Your thoughts, as always, are welcome.
Hitachi Receives Order from GM for lithium-ion Battery Systems for Hybrid-Electric Vehicles