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Report: GM Fast-Tracking Plug-in Hybrids

Bloomberg reports that General Motors is fast-tracking development of a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle in response to Toyota’s success with hybrids and fuel-efficient vehicles.

The plug-in, according to anonymous GM officials cited by the report, would have an effective fuel economy of more than 60 mpg—somewhat better than the Prius’s combined EPA rating of 55 mpg.

The plug-in designs GM is testing may be ready in time for the Detroit auto show in January [2007], the people said. Any commercial production is at least a year away, they said. The people declined to say how much the company is investing.

...The plug-in research isn’t directly tied to GM’s hybrid project with DaimlerChrysler and Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, the people said. The first GM model from that effort, a version of the Chevrolet Tahoe SUV, is scheduled to go on sale next year.

The GM Saab flex-fuel E100 hybrid introduced at the Stockholm Motor Show (earlier post) is rumored to have light plug-in capability.

GM’s mild-hybrid Saturn VUE goes on sale this year, and its forthcoming two-mode hybrid SUVs in 2007.

Toyota is seen as working on a next-generation Prius that will deliver about 100 mpg and may likely be a plug-in. (Earlier post.)


Harvey D.

50+ comments. Who said that GM was dying?
A 60 mpg PHEV would be a good start for North American heavy car/light truck and certainly much better (3X to 4X) than current units.

Better, lighter future batteries, ultra-capacitors + design upgrades could make this a 100+ mpg vehicle within 3-4 more years.

This is good news. Let's see what others will come up with to match or beat GM.

Paul van Dinther

"I only need to go 5K on battery for 90% of my trips ... "

Neil, if you only have to drive 5 kilometers, ever considered to take a bike or walk? Or if you are unfit and fat, a scooter?


GM just announced they're dropping 1/4 of their workforce.
They'd have a better chance of a making high mileage vehicles if
they hired back their old employees to pull rickshaws.


Hi Paul,

Lol, I am fat and out of shape (relatively, I swim 2K per day) but I do walk to almost everything within 4K. The 90% of my trips are my weekly grocery runs (too heavy for bike). What I really want now is a Motorino electric scooter (does 60kph) with a Li-on battery (200k range).


Toyota has gas guzzlers for the masses?

For automatics:
Yaris : 34/39
Corolla: 30/38
Camry: 24/33

OK, now Chevy (since someone brought up GM)

Aveo: 26/35 (worst than Yaris, similar size)
Cobalt: 25/34 (worse than Corolla, similar size)
Malibu: 24/32 (slightly worse than Camry)


curent expected life of NiMh battery 1000 cycles
expected life of Lith ion 1000- 1500

Price of 6.5 Ah NiMh D cell used in current hybrids $19 - $10 each depending on # purchased
# of cells per pack ~ 240

A plug in hybrid is neat and all ... but how much better is it really?


100mpg and up (depending on driving habits), much less CO2 (depending on electricity source, where I am its mostly clean hydro) ... sounds a lot better to me. If battery technology stays on its current course ... much better.


It would be nice for GM (or any American car company) to get back in the game, but GM has a history of producing cars with significanly lower reliability than Toyota or Honda. They also seem to have a management structure that calcified in the 50's and which would rather sit around blaming each other for the company failures than look facts square in the face and bite the bullet. I expect if their engineers came up with a car that ran a year on a thimbleful of alcohol, the management wouldn't have the guts to try producing it, because "Americans want big heavy powerful cars."

There have been some remarkable advances announced in new battery designs (6-min recharge time and higher energy density) that begin to make a full EV look interesting. If GM would spearhead that research, they might have a chance, but if I can't get 300-400 miles off a single charge and have to wait all night for a re-charge, the EV will not fly for me and, I expect, most others.

As to the claim about only 1000 recharge cycles for NiMh batteries, et al. That might be true for full charge/discharge cycles, but the Prius has gotten MUCH better life out of the batteries by restricting the charge/discharge range to 40% to 80% charge. They expect a life of 15 years and at LEAST 150,000 miles out of these batteries, and to date, evidence indicates they will get it. By the time you factor in decreased brake wear, (typically 100,000 mi between brake jobs) a simpler and more reliable transmission than anyone elsd and the expected decrease in the cost of replacement batteries in 5-10 years, and you are looking at a VERY competitive vehicle.

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