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GM boosting efforts in hybrid vehicles

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Reuters / September 29, 2005 MILFORD, Mich. -- General Motors sees value in unprofitable hybrid vehicles and is boosting efforts in their development, the Vice Chairman Robert Lutz said on Thursday. Lutz acknowledged the world's largest automaker has lagged in the development of hybrids, which twin a gasoline engine to an electric motor and batteries to boost fuel economy. "That will change very quickly as we roll out our various categories of hybrids, but right now we're not where we ought to be," he told reporters at a GM event here. Chairman Rick Wagoner has said in the past GM will not make unprofitable vehicles. However, Lutz said there is now an appreciation at GM for hybrids as a form of corporate advertising to show a company is technologically and environmentally advanced. "If you have to do some and lose money on them, we have to consider it as another form of communications expense and I think Rick accepts that and the board of directors accepts it," Lutz said. Ford Motor Co. said last week it was planning to boost global production of hybrid vehicles tenfold to 250,000 annually by 2010. Toyota Motor Corp., seen as a leader in hybrid technology along with Honda Motor Co. Ltd., plans to boost hybrid sales to 1 million units by the early part of next decade. Lutz declined to address GM's U.S. auto sales in September, but said the automaker will no longer offer employee pricing plans and instead shift to value pricing as a way to emphasize a vehicle and its attributes as opposed to the deal itself.
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I think they should concentrate on Hydrogen instead of hybrids. They should make hydrogen engines with as much power as a normal gasoline engine.
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Hybrids are here, hydrogen is not. You have to go with the times. They've had their hydrogen program rolling for years, and are just now starting to get heavy into hybrids. Meaning, when the hybrid fad is over, GM would have spent minimal on R&D because of being so new, and when the hydrogen fad starts, General Motors will be the reason behind it. Toyota is nowhere near GM in hydrogen R&D. They just aren't. GM did this right.
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GM and its dealers needed a hybrid last year. GM cannot continue to base its future model lineup on what the competition was offering two model years ago. RWD's have to be at dealers now, hybrid SEDANS (Not SUV's) have to be at dealers now. You can't sell against a Toyota Prius, or Honda Accord Hybrid with a full size hybrid SUV that will be available next model year, that is not the class of vehicle that those envirohippietreegeeks are clammoring over. I'm sorry I have to be so hateful at GM today, but they are making some real boneheaded moves. We can only hope that GM can even make it to the retirement party of the hybrid fad.
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I disagree: GM's protecting it's highest profit-margin vehicles first. It's far easier (& less costly) to retain a customer than it is to attract a new one. Who do you think are purchasing the Civic/Accord/Prius hybrids? GM current customer base, or Toyota/Honda loyalists? I'd bet that a high percentage of current hybrid sales are to import-loyalists. GM's hybrid isn't going to appeal to these people unless it severly outclasses the current hybrids -- something that current technology just isn't going to support.

As for GM's hybrids, it's interesting to see the multi-pronged GM's approach is:
1) Dual-mode hybrids that should be cheaper to build (smaller elec. motors) and whose range (max. speed) should surpass current hybrids -- all without sacrificing vehicle specs. Take a peek in the Prius. Drive one. See how crude the interior materials are & hear how unbelievably loud and buzzy the gasoline engine is. The Prius makes compromises to achieve it's mpg. GM's dual-mode won't. GM has an additional advantage in that engineering costs are being shared between BMW and DCX.

2) GM's BAS (belt-alternator-starter) system takes another interesting approach. GM appears to have designed this flexible enough to fit it under virtually any hood on it's lineup. Sure, it doesn't offer the advantage of a full hybrid -- but because of it's simplicity, it's engineering costs and it's component costs are tiny in comparison to Toyota designing an entire vehicle around their Synergy system. Can you think of the great PR GM would have available if GM became the first manufactuer to offer it's complete lineup with a hybrid option? It might be enough of an event to start changing people's perceptions about GM's greenness.
BTW, I sincerely doubt that GM is going to offer a hybrid option on all of it's vehicles. The cost would be enormous. The bean counters would never allow it.
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Hybrids are here, hydrogen is not. You have to go with the times. They've had their hydrogen program rolling for years, and are just now starting to get heavy into hybrids. Meaning, when the hybrid fad is over, GM would have spent minimal on R&D because of being so new, and when the hydrogen fad starts, General Motors will be the reason behind it.

Toyota is nowhere near GM in hydrogen R&D. They just aren't. GM did this right.


By the time GM is ready with its hybrids, it will be slapped around endlessly by the media for being late to the party and their products will invariably be a generation behind the leaders.

A lot can happen in 10 years when hydrogen will just begin to make sense for production. Toyota has a lot of money it can throw at this technology or buy from other companies while GM will continue to pay down its legacy costs. It's sad to say, but I simply can't find this a postitive trend for GM.

Mark
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Hybrids are here, hydrogen is not. You have to go with the times. They've had their hydrogen program rolling for years, and are just now starting to get heavy into hybrids. Meaning, when the hybrid fad is over, GM would have spent minimal on R&D because of being so new, and when the hydrogen fad starts, General Motors will be the reason behind it.

Toyota is nowhere near GM in hydrogen R&D. They just aren't. GM did this right.

[post="22255"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


I agree with the hydrogen. GM has test cars now AND induvidual power units testing to run houses, businesses, factories etc.. I might be wrong but I think DOW chemical is using GM hydrogen power units to produce some power for some of their factories. Where is Toyota? Honda has a test car running around, where is the rest? GM's future is hydrogen, not just for cars, but to power our world. In the meantime though, I think GM should start using their diesels from Europe here.They are MUCH better than they used to be, a person can get close to hybrid gas mileage (even more on the highway), they are a time tested technology, and they are less expensive. Where is Toyota? Honda? I can't name one vehicle of theirs with a diesel (there could be one though). Put these Euro-diesels in Cobalts, Aveos, Canyons, CTS', and on, and on, and on, then you can compete with hybrids. Stay on top of the hydrogen "fad" with not just cars but with homes, business', and factorys, and Toyota
will have some HARSH competition.
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Diesels are great for economy but are still a rattly, noisy, smelly vibrating thing and massive use of diesel will only raise the expensive of fuel which also has other even more important uses. Who know what percentage less stations provide diesel, the diesel use in cars negitive list is long. Howed you like to get in a traffic jam full of thousands of idleing diesels ?
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Hydrogen isn't environmentally friendly until scientists find a way to make hydrolysis easier and cheaper. As for now, hydrogen cars may be clean, but to create the actual hydrogen isn't.
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I think alot of this discussion is missing the point. The fact is several hundred thousand people, today, want to buy hybrids. If GM wants a piece of that business they need to supply what the market wants. It doesn't really matter that consumers are misguided, or the technology is just an interim or the real world economy gains are overstated. Most people who buy Corvettes and Hummers don't "need" those vehicles' capabilities either. As for losing money, I sincerely doubt that Toyota is losing money on hybrids. They are developing a new market and take a longer term view of profitability. Remember everyone thought they were losing money on Lexus at first...
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Diesels are great for economy but are still a rattly, noisy, smelly vibrating thing and massive use of diesel will only raise the expensive of fuel which also has other even more important uses.

Who know what percentage less stations provide diesel, the diesel use in cars negitive list is long. Howed you like to get in a traffic jam full of thousands of idleing diesels ?

[post="22356"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


This opinion about diesels might make some sense if absolutely nothing had changed in either diesel engine technology or the ability to refine diesel fuel since about 1985.
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Diesels are great for economy but are still a rattly, noisy, smelly vibrating thing and massive use of diesel will only raise the expensive of fuel which also has other even more important uses.

Who know what percentage less stations provide diesel, the diesel use in cars negitive list is long. Howed you like to get in a traffic jam full of thousands of idleing diesels ?

[post="22356"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]



1) Take a trip to Europe. 2) Rent a diesel car or mini van. 3) See what America would be like if diesels were more popular.

Diesels are not nearly as bad as you make them out to be.
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Heck, even Internationals new Navistar engines are clean burning and produce very little to no odor. Stand behind a new International truck sometimes. Caterpillar's ACERt technology is the absolute best diesel technology in the world and it produces engines for many uses but, get this... a 3406 diesel in a truck that doesn't make but a little whistle! And that's not valve train, injectors, nope... it's all turbo. Guys, even the new Cat tractors don't make smoke, noise, or odor and we're talking construction equipment. Diesel makes too much sense. I can't believe more people haven't embraced it. VW sells every cotton pickin' TDI they can produce even the new ugly model... there are waiting lists 100's long with deposits. People that don't even like the car (me included) would like to have one because the engine is just that good. PERIOD.
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1) Take a trip to Europe.  2) Rent a diesel car or mini van.  3) See what America would be like if diesels were more popular.

Diesels are not nearly as bad as you make them out to be.

[post="22414"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


1) Check! Toured most of Western Europe during the summer of '04

2) Check! Mazda 6 wagon, diesel, 5M

3) Check!

but... they still stink up the place!
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GM and its dealers needed a hybrid last year.  GM cannot continue to base its future model lineup on what the competition was offering two model years ago.  RWD's have to be at dealers now, hybrid SEDANS (Not SUV's) have to be at dealers now.  You can't sell against a Toyota Prius, or Honda Accord Hybrid with a full size hybrid SUV that will be available next model year, that is not the class of vehicle that those envirohippietreegeeks are clammoring over.

I'm sorry I have to be so hateful at GM today, but they are making some real boneheaded moves.  We can only hope that GM can even make it to the retirement party of the hybrid fad.

[post="22278"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


Toyota did it backwards. They started small where the least benefit was able to be realized. Woohoo! They made a 36mpg car into a 45mpg car. Trucks and SUV are more then 50% of all new vehicle sales. Making a 15mpg truck into a 28 mpg truck is a much more impressive accomplishment and makes a much greater environmental and economic impact.

Remember, GM was doing hybrid technology since before WWII.
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1) Check! Toured most of Western Europe during the summer of '04

2) Check! Mazda 6 wagon, diesel, 5M

3) Check!

but... they still stink up the place!

[post="22475"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


Then run biodiesel through them... they'll smell like french frys instead.
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This opinion about diesels might make some sense if absolutely nothing had changed in either diesel engine technology or the ability to refine diesel fuel since about 1985.

[post="22409"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


what he said.
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Then run biodiesel through them... they'll smell like french frys instead.

[post="22479"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]



mmmmm... fries... In-n-Out, or McDonald's?

BTW, I wasn't trying to make a post against bringing diesels over from Europe. I think it would be great. I just wanted to point out that you can definitely tell the difference between a gas and diesel vehicle, just from the smell they leave when the pass by.
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1) Check! Toured most of Western Europe during the summer of '04

2) Check! Mazda 6 wagon, diesel, 5M

3) Check!

but... they still stink up the place!

[post="22475"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


And gas engines spew potpourri.
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And gas engines spew potpourri.

[post="23400"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]



Not exaclty potpourri, but you have to admit the smell of diesel exhaust takes getting used to. I also found it more irritating (physically, to the nose).

Anyway... I like the smell of my exhaust.
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Not exaclty potpourri, but you have to admit the smell of diesel exhaust takes getting used to.  I also found it more irritating (physically, to the nose).

Anyway... I like the smell of my exhaust.

[post="23523"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


Call me crazy, but ever since I was little, I liked the smell of diesel fumes. I don't know why, just do. And now with better technology, we are losing that smell.

I don't care for the smell of your exhaust, but the smell of your tire smoke, that's like potpourri to me. :P
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