Jill Ladjiak couldn't be happier. The current Saturn Vue Green Line hangs around dealer lots an average of only 13 days before being sold. And now the Saturn general manager is showing off the new 2008 Saturn Vue that will be the foundation for three different hybrid systems in the next few years, including a plug-in version.
Ladjiak followed up GM Chairman Rick Wagoner's early morning speech to open the Los Angeles Auto Show in which he announced that GM will expand its hybrid technology to include a front-wheel-drive 2-mode hybrid and a plug-in version of the 2-mode system. Both will debut on the Saturn Vue Green Line.
While Wagoner had the spotlight in making the announcement, Ladjiak fielded questions about the timeline, availability and pricing. She told AutoblogGreen that early versions of the 2008 Vue Green Line will carry over the current 4-cylinder engine and belt-alternator hybrid technology until late next year when the FWD 2-mode system with a 3.6-liter V6 engine becomes available. At that time, customers will have a choice between the two hybrids as well as straight gas. Ladjiak said the strategy allows customers a choice of fuel economy and cost. The 2-mode could deliver up to 45 percent fuel economy compared with a non-hybrid Vue.
While Ladjiak couldn't offer an estimated time for releasing a plug-in version of the 2-mode system, she said it has the potential to "double the mileage" of any current SUV. The plug-in would enhance the 2-mode system with a Lithium Ion battery pack to offer up to 10 miles of electric-only propulsion. It could also be charged from an external electrical outlet.
In other news from the GM press conference, Troy Clarke, president of GM North America, reviewed the company's hybrid and fuel cell portfolio. He showed off the upcoming GMC Yukon 2-mode hybrid that will be available soon as well as the Equinox fuel cell vehicle that will be part of a 100-customer test program next year.
Follow the break for official GM news releases and more photos
GM Announces Intention to Produce Plug-in Hybrid SUV
Saturn Vue Green Line Will Use Modified 2-mode Hybrid System, Lithium Ion Battery
LOS ANGELES – General Motors Corp. intends to produce a Saturn Vue Green Line plug-in hybrid that has the potential to achieve double the fuel efficiency of any current SUV, the automaker announced at the Greater Los Angeles Auto Show.
This hybrid SUV will use a modified version of GM's 2-mode hybrid system and plug-in technology, a Lithium Ion battery pack when ready, highly efficient electronics and powerful electric motors to achieve significant increases in fuel economy.
"GM has begun work on a Saturn Vue plug-in hybrid production vehicle," said Rick Wagoner, GM Chairman and CEO. "The technological hurdles are real, but we believe they are also surmountable. I can't give you a production date for our plug-in hybrid today. But I can tell you that this is a top priority program for GM, given the huge potential it offers for fuel-economy improvement."
A plug-in hybrid-electric vehicle differs from non-plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles by offering extended electric-only propulsion, additional battery capacity and the ability to be recharged from an external electrical outlet.
The Saturn Vue Green Line plug-in hybrid is expected to offer electric-only propulsion for more than 10 miles. At higher speeds or when conditions demand it, such as brisk acceleration, a combination of engine and electric power or engine power only will propel the vehicle.
In addition to plug-in capabilities and the modified 2-mode hybrid system, the Saturn Vue Green Line hybrid SUV's powertrain will feature Lithium Ion battery technology, two interior permanent magnet motors and GM's 3.6L V-6 gasoline engine with direct injection.
When ready for production, the Lithium Ion energy storage system will be replenished when the battery charge is depleted to a specified level by utilizing the 2-mode hybrid system's electric motors and regenerative braking systems. When the vehicle is parked, the battery can be recharged using a common household exterior 110-volt plug-in outlet.
The 2-mode hybrid system will be altered for use with plug-in technology. It maintains two driving modes – one for city driving, the other for highway driving – and four fixed mechanical gears to maximize efficiency while maintaining performance. In addition, special controls will be utilized to enable higher speeds during electric-only propulsion and maintain electric-only propulsion for longer periods of time.
The Saturn Vue Green Line SUV, featuring the modified 2-mode hybrid system with plug-in capabilities, is part of GM's ambitious effort to offer consumers a broad choice of hybrid systems at various levels of affordability:
- This year, the GM Hybrid system, an affordable belt-alternator starter hybrid technology, debuted in the Vue Green Line front-wheel-drive SUV.
- In 2007, the GM Hybrid system will expand to the Saturn Aura Green Line and Chevrolet Malibu front-wheel-drive midsize sedans.
- In 2007, the 2-mode hybrid system will debut in the Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon full-size SUVs. Rear-wheel and four-wheel drive will be offered.
- In 2008, the 2-mode hybrid system will expand to the Cadillac Escalade full-size SUV and the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra crew cab full-size pickups. The Escalade will offer all-wheel drive, while the Silverado and Sierra will offer rear-wheel and four-wheel drive.
- In 2008, the first front-wheel-drive application of the 2-mode hybrid system, will debut – without plug-in technology – in the Vue Green Line. The Vue Green Line will offer customers a choice of the GM Hybrid system or the 2-mode hybrid system.
- In 2009, an electric all-wheel-drive, 2-mode hybrid system will be introduced in the Vue Green Line.
"GM plans to introduce a new hybrid system annually for the next several years, each offering different levels of affordability, fuel savings and performance," said Tom Stephens, GM group vice president, GM Powertrain. "This strategy will allow more consumers to benefit from our hybrid technologies, while providing the opportunity to reduce our country's petroleum consumption."
GM is committed to a comprehensive and cost-effective, three-tiered advanced propulsion technology strategy focused on producing commercially viable and sustainable products. These include alternative fuel vehicles, ongoing improvements to conventional internal combustion engines and transmissions, the electrification of the automobile through a broad portfolio of hybrid models on high-volume car and truck platforms, and commercially viable hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.
Front-Wheel-Drive, 2-Mode Hybrid System Debuts in 2008
Saturn Hybrid SUV Expected to Offer Up To 45-Percent Fuel Economy Improvement
LOS ANGELES – General Motors Corp. will expand the industry's most diverse portfolio of hybrid technologies in 2008 with the debut of its front-wheel-drive, 2-mode hybrid system in the Saturn Vue Green Line SUV, the automaker announced at the Greater Los Angeles Auto Show.
By using this sophisticated hybrid technology, the Vue Green Line 2-mode Hybrid is expected to deliver up to a 45-percent improvement in combined city and highway fuel economy compared with the non-hybrid Vue, based on current federal test procedures.
"We are delivering on our promise to continue our steady rollout of additional hybrid applications, each offering different levels of affordability, fuel savings and performance," said Tom Stephens, GM group vice president, GM Powertrain. "This will be the auto industry's first front-wheel-drive vehicle to use a 2-mode hybrid system, which improves fuel economy while maintaining performance and capability."
The Vue Green Line 2-mode Hybrid SUV will be powered by GM's 3.6L V-6 gas engine, with direct injection and variable valve timing, a nickel-metal hydride battery pack and two active cooled permanent magnet motors.
The front-wheel-drive, 2-mode hybrid system optimizes city and highway fuel efficiency by integrating two electric continuously variable modes with four fixed mechanical gear ratios.
This design is similar to the 2-mode hybrid system for rear-wheel-drive applications, which will debut next year in the Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon full-size SUVs.
The 2-mode hybrid system improves fuel economy by the following operations:
- Engine off at idle
- Low speed electric-only propulsion
- Electric boosting during brisk acceleration, climbing steep grades or towing
- Cutting off fuel to the engine during vehicle deceleration
- Regenerative braking
- Engine speed and load control
"The 2-mode hybrid system has the flexibility to improve fuel efficiency across a range of vehicles," Stephens said. "For example, in 2003, we introduced the 2-mode hybrid system for transit buses. In 2007, the Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon 2-mode full-size SUVs will debut, followed by the Vue Green Line 2-mode in 2008."
By using two electric modes and four fixed gear ratios, the 2-mode hybrid system's electric motors are smaller, compared with traditional "one-mode" hybrid systems, and impose no significant limitation on the size of the engine.
Consequently, the 2-mode hybrid system fits into the same space as a conventional automatic transmission, minimizing packaging, cost and weight issues. The result is exciting performance and outstanding fuel economy.