DaimlerChrysler AG and General Motors Corporation (GM) have united in the formation of an alliance for the joint development of hybrid drive systems. The automakers are cooperating in order to pool their expertise for the accelerated and efficient development of hybrid drive systems in order to compete with Japanese rivals.

The new partnership will produce a “two-mode” hybrid technology which enhances acceleration and fuel economy by 25%, comparable to the Toyota Prius. This new technology, which has the potential for being used in a variety of vehicles, is being adapted from GM’s hybrid transit bus. The use of hybrid technology allows the hybrid to run on a smaller and more cost effective conventional engine. The “two-mode” system will improve fuel economy at highway speeds, and increase trailer towing capacity, all of which should make it a popular option for consumers. While the base two-mode hybrid design will be common, each company will individually integrate the hybrid system into the design and manufacturing of their vehicles in accordance with their brand specific requirements.

A key factor in ensuring optimum success will be the extensive sharing of components and production facilities, and the collaborative relationship with suppliers. This will enable the alliance partners to achieve significant economies of scale and associated cost advantages, which will also benefit customers.

GM DCX module

GM-DCX hybrid transmission module. NAFTC Photo

The two-mode hybrid technology enhances the performance, fuel efficiency and range of these hybrid drive vehicles. In city driving and in stop-and-go traffic, the vehicles can be powered either by the electric motors or by the internal combustion engine or both simultaneously. Regardless of which type of operation is chosen, the drive system’s fuel saving potential is exploited to maximum effect. When traveling at high speeds, for example, on rural roads and highways, the two-mode system switches to a different driving mode. The two-mode system provides a number of benefits even when driving at such constant speeds. Because the hybrid drive’s full power is available when climbing steep inclines, passing other cars or hauling a trailer, fuel consumption can be reduced and performance increased even when operating in the highway mode.

GM will debut the system in its Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon full-sized SUVs in late 2007. Chrysler plans to use the technology in the Dodge Durango full-sized SUV and in various other vehicles.

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