General Motors Corp. (GM) introduced its two new gasoline-electric hybrid sport utility vehicles (SUVs) at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) held in Detroit in early January. GM unveiled the 2007 Saturn VUE Green Line and the 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe hybrid, which will become available in the United States in each of the next two model years.
According to GM, the Saturn VUE Green Line features the automaker’s new hybrid system designed for small and midsize cars. This new system provides electric assist at all speeds; eliminates all fuel consumption when idle; features power assist during launch, passing, and other wide-open throttle maneuvers; uses no fuel during deceleration; and charges its battery with regenerative braking.
An electric motor, nickel-metal hydride battery pack, and a 2.4-liter Ecotec four-cylinder engine with 170 horsepower power the VUE Green Line. Saturn General Manager Jill Lajdziak estimates the five-door, five-passengerhybrid’s fuel economy to be 27 miles per gallon (mpg) for city driving and 32 mpg for highway driving. The VUE Green Line will go on sale this summer with a starting price of less than $23,000.
The 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe hybrid is powered by GM’s two-mode hybrid system, which was co-developed by DaimlerChrysler and BMW Group. In the system’s first mode, electric power is used to minimize or eliminate fuel consumption in low-speed city operation. In the second mode for higher speeds, the system combines electric assist with the SUV’s Vortec V8 technologies, including Active Fuel Management (a cylinder deactivation system), variable valve timing, late-intake valve closure, and a 12:1 compression ratio to reduce fuel consumption. The two-mode system is estimated to provide a 25 percent improvement in fuel economy compared to base models.
The Tahoe hybrid will go on sale in 2007, making it one of the largest hybrid vehicles on the market. Its starting price has not yet been announced.
While participating in NAIAS, GM announced plans to develop more hybrids in every market segment by the end of the decade. One of these will be a hybrid Cadillac Escalade, which is expected to be available by 2008 and will be powered by GM’s two-mode hybrid system.