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Report: GM and Suzuki Jointly To Develop Hybrids for N America

11 June 2006

The Nihon Keizai Shimbun reports that Suzuki Motor plans to develop hybrid vehicles with General Motors and market them in North America around 2009. The two automakers reportedly are considering developing sport utility vehicles with engine displacements of approximately 3 liters.

Suzuki’s sales in the US are up 37% this year compared to 2005, driven largely by sales of its re-designed 2.7-liter Grand Vitara SUV (sold as the Escudo in Japan). In May, the Grand Vitara posted 2,358 units sold, compared to 323 the year before. For the first five months of this year, Suzuki has sold 12,314 units of the Grand Vitara, up from 2,189 for the same period in 2005.

In April, at the New York International Auto Show, Suzuki announced that its 2007 XL-7 SUV would be bigger and more powerful than its predecessor, and use a new 3.6-liter engine co-developed with GM. The new 2007 XL-7 is based on the GM Theta platform.

GM cut its stake in Suzuki from 20% to 3% in March, but the partnership continues in such areas as joint production in North America.

GM currently has two hybrid architectures it is applying to SUVs: the full two-mode hybrid under development that will appear first in select models of its full-size SUV line-up, and the mild-hybrid enhanced-BAS architecture applied to the Saturn VUE Green Line, due to go on sale later this year.

June 11, 2006 in Hybrids | Permalink | Comments (31) | TrackBack (0)

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Lame! 3 liter and it won't be out till 2009. They missed the market window.

I agree with Dursun. 2009... What's wrong with the U.S.?
Where is that leadership in technology?
I'm not saying, that Hybrid is THE solution. In the contrary. Hybrids are to heavy. Maybe for the city traffic they are ok. that's all. For the short-time Diesel engines would be a solution for the U.S, because they are about 30% to 40% more economic than your gasoline V8's (Do you know that?). But apparently you Americans are still not willing to buy Diesel vehicles. That's ALSO (among others) the reason, why you consume more than double the amount of fuel per person as we Europeans do.
We are entering a deep crisis with stock market collaps under way. A lot of people are heavily loosing money.
The U.S. is by far the biggest consumer of oil. Because of your addiction to oil there is more trouble ahead.

Instead of endless debates about energy alternatives... just do something, communicate it to the world, to OPEC. Tell them,
- we are going to produce 2'800'000 barrels p.a. of cellulosic ethanol
- we are going to produce 3 mio. barrels of CTL.
- we are going to prepare the hydrogen future.

If Clinton would be President by now, he would communicate that. And that would ease a lot of the stress.

EDF -

for reference, the US consumes about 20 million barrels of crude oil per DAY. The numbers you suggest would get them approx. from lunch to teatime on Jan 1st.

Btw, there are a few diesel models available in the 45 states that do not adhere to California emissions regs. However, the EPA is canceling Tier 2 Bins 9-11 at the end of MY 2006, which is why VW recently announced it will not be offering new diesel models in the US until it has one that meets Tier 2 Bin 5. Honda and Daihatsu have made similar noises.

A mild hybrid paired with a seriously downsized and turbocharged gasoline engine is not all that much heavier than an equivalent naturally aspirated gasoline engine. The problem is not so much weight as cost, especially of the batteries/ultracapacitors. And yes, hybrids do nothing much for fuel economy on the highway. Turbodiesels are economical in all situations, and no longer really dirty.

I get over 50mpg on the highway in my Prius. That's hardly doing nothing much.

And I routinely get over 80 MPG in the summer with my Insight. The next generation of hybrid will be better still when lighter batteries and more efficient electronics kick in. Currently battery production is the bottleneck and shortages of cobalt is a critical problem. We've got to get thinking here.

And I routinely get over 80 MPG in the summer with my Insight. The next generation of hybrid will be better still when lighter batteries and more efficient electronics kick in. Currently battery production is the bottleneck and shortages of cobalt is a critical problem. We've got to get thinking here.

^ The high performance on the highway isn't because it's a hybrid. It's because the two cars mentioned are lighter, more aerodynamic, and have drivers who are trying harder to not consume fuel (easier on the gas and brake).

If they didn't have hybrid technology, you'd still be seeing great mileage in them on the highway.

That being said, it's much more important to get the 17 mpg vehicles up to 22 mpg than it is to get the 45 mpg vehicles up to 50 mpg. Why? Calculate how much fuel each vehicle would use on a 1000 mile journey under each metric (17/22, 45/50). Finding improvement in the guzzlers provides far more savings than stretching another 2 miles per gallon out of an already relatively efficient vehicle. That doesn't mean that it shouldn't be done -- of course it should. But, the "low hanging fruit" is in the vehicles getting low mpg.

The low hanging fruit is in the vehicles that, collectively, will deliver the greatest fuel savings across the entire economy. It all depends on the number of vehicle miles driven per year in each mileagle class of car or truck. I.e. we have to look at the weighted average of MPG, not just the simple mean of the MPG.

The reason for high highway MPG numbers for hybrids is very simple: hybrid drivetrain allowes serious downsize and optimization (Atkinson cycle, CVT, etc.) of gasoline engine, while retaining good driveability and high peack power.

The two cars mentioned are lighter than what? That may apply to the Insight. But what is the Prius lighter than? Certainly not the Civic and it does the better on the highway than the conventional civic. And certainly, it is not lighter than the Corolla. And what about the Camry Hybrid? Is it lighter and more aerodynamic than its conventional counterpart. Was EPA trying harder with the Camry hybrid to best the plain Camry?

We all know that the Toyota versions of the hybrid are far superior in the city but to claim that they don't do significantly better on the highway is just plain bunk.

And btw, the Civic gets better mileage on the highway than in the city, so what's your theory there?

As far as saying that marginal improvements in gas guzzlers is more important than improvements in cars with high mileage. This is like saying that percentage weight reductions in obese people is more important than with people of normal weight. It true as far as it goes but it deflects us from the important point. The obese person is still obese while the normal person is probably just a bit healthier.

Fat is fat. Gas guzzling is gas guzzling. We will not accomplish the needed reduction in energy consumption by patting ourselves on the back for driving Suburbans with better gas mileage. Yes they are more efficient. Yes, we should appreciate the technology that got them that way. But they will still help us get to the road to hell, just a bit more slowly.

EDF;
Even though the people have more control over their Government, you Euros are still burning the same percentage of fossil fuel vs alternatives as we Americans.
Both sides of the ocean are guilty of doing Nothing while watching the slow train wreck our ecomonies and lifestyles will have.
Its as if we are standing in front of a firing squad,
beating our bare chest and yelling; Bring It On!

When the cutoff of oil supplies happen, it will cost lives and force us back to the farm, and behind a horse.

Why do people keep saying hybrids dont help with highway mpg?

The hybrid system in the Prius does lead to improved highway mpg, just not as much as it helps the car in the city. A car the size of the Prius would generally have a 2000cc engine or greater yet the Prius due to its full hybrid system is able to use a 1500cc engine. That helps with highway mpg. 50mpg is good highway milage for the size of the Prius.

Enough beating on us Americans please! We are late to the game. European fuel costs are about 2x ours. A few years ago it was 4x. We are beginning to catch on.

GM, Ford and Chrysler sales were all down in May. Toyota and Honda were both up. Hybrid sales were the highest ever. Hopefully the consumer has adjusted his fuel consumption awareness and the trend will continue.

I agree with the post that GM has missed the market. It may prove a fatal error.

There's something to consider before you pillory GM and Ford.

They can't make money on small cars. Ford loses something like $4000 on every Focus they sell. A friend of mine who is a GM auto worker said they lose about $2000 on every Cobalt.

So you see the problem. GM and Ford have no incentive to invest in small cars. The profits they've made from their SUV sales have been subsidizing other market segments.

Ask your auto worker friend exactly WHY they lose so much money on those small cars.

He probably won't tell you the honest answer which is the UAW and their insane pay rates, pensions, and insurance benefits. $25-30 an hour STARTING wages for assemblers, janitors and similar employees. $52,000 to $62,000 per year starting! The average Engineer with a Master's degree would start at that wage and a teacher with 5-8 years experience and a Master's degree would be lucky to make that much. Of course recently they've finally made some push to lower those initial pay rates but that does nothing for the highly paid people already highered before the reform (and these guys go on strike because they say they don't get enough???).

The quickest way to reduce fuel usage in a 14 mpg SUV is to leave it parked in the garage.

If GM and Ford won't invest in small cars because they can't find the "incentive" to do so, then let them go under and better companies rise up in their place. That's the way it works, and I won't feel bad for them, except for all the people that lose jobs who have families to pay for, but they can go work for Honda: they are hiring! And Honda made the insight for 7 years at a loss the whole way almost, that didn't stop them. Even if their motive was just to keep the title of "most fuel efficient," I don't care.

-off topic-
Tony Chilling - I second that. Amiland, Europe and Asia has to take action to burn less fuel. No matter if Amis guzzling right now the double amount of other country citizens.
I would seriously appreciate if Bush (kind of accomplished world leader) came up with an int. masterplan i.e. "roadmap to sustainability" or whatever you name it. A plan which forces automakers worldwide by law to build cars with high MPG-range.
Merkel, Blair or other nobodys can do this. Amerika must take the leadership here.
We're all in the same boat, it's time.

Ekraut, if you hope to be taken seriously, don't spell it, 'Amerika'. You look stupid and your point is lost... In your circle of friends it may make sense, but normal people think you are a bit clueless.

People say that hybrids don't do much for highway speeds because they don't.

The improved aerodynamics, reduced weight, narrow low rolling resistance tires, and highly efficient engines are responsible for the majority of the highway fuel economy improvements of hybrids.

Hybrid components only help during acceleration and braking, which you avoid if you are trying to maximise fuel economy.

It is possible that the hybrid components of hybrids actually leads to reduced highway fuel economy, since they increase the weight of the vehicle without providing any assistance.

Also, what's with all the American Auto bashing? Suzuki is JAPANESE, only 3% owned by GM. Honestly, if you're gonna knock the american auto industry try to at least find an appropriate venue.

Oh,Jeebus. The Prius weighs more than the Corolla and the Honda Civic, for starters. What about the Camry. I know I'm repeating myself, but why do people keep saying reduced weight is the reason for b

etter hwy mileage. And, once again, is the Camry hybrid more aerodynamic than the plain Camry?

Oh, well, if you can come up with a comparable, conventional gasoline powered car that outdoes the Prius, go for it.

And oh, yeh, why does the Civic Hybrid do better on the highway than the conventional civic?

As far as lower rolling resistance tires, I don't even use them. I swapped them out when I bought my Prius so I could get better traction. I still get better than 50 going from Grand Junction, Colorado to my home which is a 3000 foot elevation gain through the Eisenhower tunnel. And when I say better than 50, I mean 56.7 mpg.

Shaun Mann you are forgetting an other aspect which helps hybrids on the highway : smaller ICE engines.

But, there is acceleration and decellearation on the highway as well, I'm not sure about the Prius but Honda's hybrids offer regen and assist at all speeds... even 100mph ^_^

Also, in the case of Honda, lean-burn technology increases highway milage... which is only available in thier hybrids. So you are wrong for at least 3 reasons :P

The US automakers need to take a step back and look at their competition. Maybe then they wouldn't be circling the toilet. They all have left the CNG market in the US while building them for Europe. They have left their economy car lines to the Asian imports that they rebadge. Now they have to give BIG rebates and incentives to sell their gas guzzling SUVs. Of course the Japanese are no better Toyota canceled one of the best CNGs in the American market to build the Prius and will not let it be converted into a CNG here in the US. Or Honda that makes both a CNG and Hybrid on the same platform but not a CNG hybrid! But at least Honda selling to the public CNGs and strongly supporting CNG through their dealer network. I do applaud the manufactures that have finally gotten around to building cleaner diesels. Once they decide to mete Ca. EPA standards my hat will be off to them. The only problem is that it is still an oil product. I realize that natural gas is a hydrocarbon but it is the cleanest fuel out there, mix that with hybrid we might see the technological jumps we need to free are self’s from oil.

I knew the GM bashing would ensue, after announcing relatively good news on joint efforts like this. GM cant win. If they announce nothing on hybrids, they're bashed with "why doesnt GM do hybrids". In announcing this now, GM is bashed for "being late". Very funny. As a side note, GM may in fact lead the world in diesel-hybrid technology with their ElectroMotive freight locomotive division. They also are a leader in the diesel/hybrid bus market. A little homework before bashing GM, perhaps?

Also two things for "edf". First, if we had affordable diesel cars available in the US, I am sure they would be bought, if they can economically compete against gasoline models, in costs to operate plus initial purchase price. It appears as if you are a non American, so how would you know that we are unwilling to buy diesels. Thats just an assumption, and an incorrect one at that.

And secondly, to correct the Clinton reference, he was limited to two terms (8 years), so there is no way he could be serving until now!! He would be in his fourteenth year! Perhaps all of us need to brush up on our facts before making claims. But, this being just me, I shudder at the thought of Clinton being in office on 9/11/01.

What do you mean about Clinton. You mean we might have been attacked? You mean we might have avoided the Iraqi war?

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