GM plug-in hybrid crossover on track for 2011 debut


A plug-in hybrid drivetrain destined for the Vue in 2010 will now be used by a vehicle from one of GM’s four  core brands

A plug-in hybrid drivetrain destined for the Vue in 2010 will now be used by a vehicle from one of GM’s four core brands

When General Motors sells Saturn later this year, it will lose more than a quarter of its sales of hybrid vehicles. Saturn, with no V8 models, fullsize SUVs or pickups, is GM’s most fuel-efficient brand and is second only to Chevrolet for overall hybrid sales with its Vue and Aura mild-hybrid models. Saturn also planned to launch a new Two-Mode hybrid version of the Vue by the middle of the year, as well as an advanced plug-in hybrid version next year.

While reports emerged earlier this year claiming all these vehicles had been canceled, GM’s vice chairman of global product development, Tom Stephens, revealed that the roll-out of the new hybrid technology will not be delayed by the sale of Saturn. Stephens has now revealed to Reuters that the plug-in hybrid drivetrain destined for the Vue crossover will still be delivered to fleets in another model by early 2011 and could also be offered to consumers depending on how high fuel prices escalate in coming years. The first versions are expected to be used by the U.S. Department of Energy and the Electric Power Research Institute.

"The technology does not go away. We are going to plug it in," Stephens said. "We'll go to fleets first and see where it goes after that." It will appear in a vehicle from one of GM’s four core brands - Chevrolet, Cadillac, GMC or Buick.

Likely candidates for the plug-in drivetrain would be the new versions of the Chevrolet Equinox or GMC Terrain, two compact SUVs that ride on a similar version of the Vue’s Theta platform. In the Vue, the drivetrain was expected to deliver about 35mpg.

 
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