GM to Develop Plug-in Hybrid System for Saturn Vue
LOS ANGELES --- 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 Los Angeles Auto Show. This hybrid SUV will use a modified version of GM's two-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 two-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 using the two-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 two-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 enable higher speeds during electric-only propulsion and maintain electric-only propulsion for longer periods of time. The first front-wheel-drive application of the two-mode hybrid system will debut --- without plug-in technology --- in the Vue Green Line in 2008.