General Motors has announced plans for a new hybrid system that’s set to debut in North America in 2010. The new system will feature lithium-ion batteries sourced from Hitachi and will be significantly cheaper than current hybrid systems while also improving fuel economy by up to 20%.

Some of the new elements of the system include engine stop-start technology, longer electric-only drivability, more powerful electric motors, more efficient regenerative braking and improved hybrid battery charging. The increased power from the lithium-ion battery will also allow the next-generation hybrid system to be used in a wide range of global powertrains, including naturally aspirated engines, new high-efficiency turbocharged engines, biofuel engines and diesels.

One of the cars that will debut the technology will be the production version of the Saab 9-X BioPower Hybrid concept car (pictured), which is on display at the Geneva Show. The Saab concept is capable of 117 g CO2/km, or projected fuel consumption of just 4.9 l/100 km (48 mpg) when running on gasoline over the combined cycle.

This is GM’s second-generation hybrid design. The first system relies on a belt-alternator-starter hybrid design and currently features in the Saturn Vue, Saturn Aura and Chevrolet Malibu line of cars. By the end of 2008, GM will offer eight hybrid models in North America and nine worldwide. GM will introduce 16 new hybrid vehicles over the next four years.

Saab 9-X BioPower Hybrid Concept