Saturday, July 26, 2008

GM's hybrid powertrain director gives PHEV update

A row of Saturn Vue PHEVs in Milford's building 16 garage

GM may have been late to the party when it came to hybrids, but they are now throwing resources at a bunch of different parallel paths that including electric drive. There are already cars and CUVs with mild hybrid systems and full-size SUVs with Two-Mode hybrid systems. Later this fall pickup trucks and Saturn Vues will also get the Two-Mode system. Then there is of course the E-Flex Chevy Volt. Sometime around the end of 2009 GM's first plug-hybrid should debut also in the shape of the Vue. At the Plug-In 2008 conference Larry Nitz, the Executive Director of the hybrid powertrain engineering at GM provided an updated on the Vue PHEV program. After initiating development with nickel metal hydride batteries, the team based in Building 16 at the Milford proving ground now has 11 plug-in Vues running with lithium ion batteries. If the PHEV Vue makes it by the end of next year it will likely be the first commercially available plug-in hybrid from a major carmaker. The Vue is expected to have about 10 miles of electric driving range on a full charge.