TRAVERSE CITY, MI – General Motors, DaimlerChrysler AG, and BMW will invest more than $1 billion in a research alliance for the development of a new hybrid transmission and related systems, reported Reuters. The three automakers have about 500 engineers who have been working for the past 18 months on the joint development of the next-generation hybrid engine technology, which combines a battery-powered electric motor with a conventional gasoline combustion engine. The dual-mode hybrid technology under development by the consortium includes an onboard fuel-optimization computer that determines when and at what speeds the two motors will be used for power and how the on-board battery will be recharged. Backers say the cooperative effort will leapfrog the market-leading technology now offered by Toyota Motor Corp. Development of the transmission is expected to cost about $300 million for the partners, according to Andreas Truckenbrodt, executive director of DaimlerChrysler’s hybrid programs. The remainder of the investment represents the cost of integrating the new hybrid system with other vehicle components, reports Reuters. The hybrid engine will be made available in two rear-wheel-drive configurations or a front-wheel-drive system.

Originally posted on Fleet Financials

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