The failed nickel-metal hydride battery packs caused the computer inside the hybrid cars to shut down the hybrid portion of the drivetrain, returning the vehicles to standard combustion-engine-only status, reports Automotive News. The cars affected include 2007 Saturn Vue Green Line and Saturn Aura Green Line hybrids. The 9,000 vehicles affected have already been recalled for fixes.
But the recall process meant a slowdown in the construction of new 2008 Saturn and Chevy Malibu hybrids. The goal had been to build around 27,000 hybrid vehicles in 2008, but the new number es expected to come up well short of that mark. It's sure to be a costly incident for GM, as rising fuel prices are boosting sales of hybrids - even mild ones - and the company is already short over 300,000 units of production thanks to the recently-terminated American Axle strike.