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GM Will Apply Plug-in Hybrid Technology To One of Its Remaining Four Core Brands, Delivery Still in 2011

Prototype Saturn Vue PHEV plugging in to a Coulomb Chargepoint (earlier post) in San Jose, CA. Click to enlarge.

In a post on GM’s FastLane blog, Vice Chairman Tom Stephens said that the company will apply plug-in hybrid technology to one of the four core brands remaining after the restructuring: Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC.

Saturn currently sells two hybrid vehicles (VUE and Aura with GM Hybrid System) and was scheduled to begin initially offering a two-mode hybrid Vue (earlier post), with a Vue plug-in two-mode hybrid version (earlier post) due in 2011 for use in a cooperative demonstration test fleet with the US Dept. of Energy (DOE) and nonprofit Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). (Earlier post.)

In 2008, Stephens, then GM Group Vice President Global Powertrain and Global Quality, had said that the Vue two-mode hybrid would deliver about a 50% increase in combined fuel economy compared to the non-hybrid Vue XR and that the two-mode plug-in hybrid would have a battery-powered driving range at low speed of about 10 miles, and could double fuel economy compared to the conventional vehicle on short trips.

Based on the current restructuring plan, GM is accelerating the wind-down or sale of Saturn to the end of this year. (Earlier post.)

Although Saturn’s future is likely not to be within GM now, I can assure you our commitment to hybrid, plug-in hybrid and advanced battery technology is a key element of GM’s reinvention. I’m pleased to let you know the plug-in hybrid technology will be applied to one of GM’s four core brands. Stay tuned for which one, and in the meantime, I’ll enjoy reading the speculation.

Stephens said that GM is still planning initial delivery of plug-in hybrid vehicles using a modified version of the GM front-wheel drive two-mode hybrid system (earlier post) in 2011 to the DOE and EPRI for use in fleets.

The Volt and plug-in hybrid vehicle are two of 14 hybrid and electric vehicles GM plans to offer by 2012. So while it may seem at times we’re taking a step back, we’re really taking two steps forward.



Offer the dual mode VUE with space to put in battery modules and let the market decide. Buy it with a 2 kwh battery module and upgrade in 2 or 4 kwh increments. By the time they want to plug it in, maybe battery prices will be more affordable.


Caddilac has the Theta platform twin ot the VUe in theForthcoming SRX. It would take very littel to have a dual mode plug-in SRx. Th eCAdillac pricepoints would make such a vheicel easieir to sell and would be technologically superior to and compete with the Lexus and forthcomong Mercedes CUV hybrids


The Chevy Volt and Crapillac copy hybrids are both aimed at the luxury car market. GM is thus killing hybrids by extension -- no one but the rich will be able to afford them. GM Vice Chairman Stephens is being disingenuous. GM is resisting progress based on profits at the expense of public health and safety and the national economy. GM should go bankrupt or scale down to producing trucks and vans. GM and Ford paratransit vans are long overdue for a major redesign to low-floor (duh) with hybrid drivetrain. Die, GM, die!



Modular battery packs make too much sense. Of course, a PHEV or BEV could be designed to accept 2 to 8 smaller standardized (plug-in) battery modules, having 2 to 4 Kwh each.

Buyers without deep pockets could start with one or two modules and add the others latter, as price decreases and performance improves.

It is certain that battery modules will cost much less and perform much better in the future. Why should we have to buy the full complement now?

A PHEV with a much smaller (single module) initial battery pack could cost as much as $10K less than a Volt with 16 Kwh pack.

Toyota's early version PHEVs may only have a 2.6 Kwh battery and be limited to about 20 Km e-range. Following versions will have more Kwh and more e-range with improved e-storage units.

GM, Ford and Chrysler (if they're still around) may have to use a similar approach to keep the price low enough. Let's hope they do.


All these cars are designed to fail.

GM was designed to manufacture gasoline consumption machines, not transportation for people. This goes back to the 50's when most car buyers wanted better gas mileage. They got worse.

Remember, this is the same company that bought up electric trolley transit systems all over North America and closed them. This whole scenario has played out many times before. GM is still doing business the old way, just with better PR.

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