Engineers at the General Motors Advanced Technology Center inTorrance, CA, have developed a new hybrid power system that has an electric motor in each wheel hub, which can provide a 60 percent increase in torque at launch, according to Larry Burns, vice president of research and development and planning. “All of that torque is available instantly,” Burns said. “This enables a four-cylinder engine to perform like a six-cylinder engine.”Since electric motors develop torque instantly, and hybrid vehicles generate electric power, the power can be sent directly to the motor at the wheel, minimizing any energy loss.Bill Slomski, managing director of the Advanced Technology Center, said that when packaged in a truck, wheel hub motors improve the truck’s performance off-road and enhance the all-wheel-drive capability. “The wheels don’t slip,” he said. “We have the ability to control each individual wheel with better response than today’s high-end traction control systems.