AutoWeek reports that General Motors may soon introduce a series-hybrid prototype as a step in its development path to future electric vehicles.
GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz told AutoWeek in an interview that GM executives believe that electric vehicles are the future, and that the company’s work on fuel-cell vehicles may first be realized as a series hybrid. GM CEO Rick Wagoner will reveal “a new step” in GM’s alternative-fuel vehicle programs at the Los Angeles auto show this month.
A series hybrid could run primarily on electricity from lithium-ion batteries, with an engine as backup to replenish batteries, Lutz says. The backup engine could be a diesel or gasoline internal combustion engine. Backup energy also could come from a fuel cell.
Such a vehicle would require “a much smaller fuel cell stack” than a vehicle in which the fuel cell powers an electric engine, Lutz said. It would be less complex than a parallel hybrid system, which constantly shifts between an electric and gasoline engine to power a vehicle.
“Tom Stephens [group vice president of GM Powertrain], Rick Wagoner and I believe in the ultimate electrification of the automobile,” Lutz said...“We believe that’s where it’s going...what started as a fuel cell project is now an electric vehicle project.”
In September, Lutz wrote that GM was not putting all its eggs in the hydrogen basket, and was considering a variety of power sources for electric-drive vehicles, including plug-in hybrids. (Earlier post.)
Lutz expects rapid battery development over the next three to four years will provide more energy storage.
(A hat-tip to Patrick!)