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HarleyEarl

GM Hybrid to Undercut Prius

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GM Hybrid to Undercut Prius Struggling U.S. automaker targets Toyota with plans for a cheaper hybrid SUV. November 16, 2005 As General Motors’ stock sank to its lowest level in 18 years on Wednesday, the troubled automaker turned to green technology for hope, pledging to undercut the competition when it introduces a hybrid version of the Saturn VUE next summer. “We think it will be the most affordable hybrid on the market,” Susan Garavaglia, manager of communications for GM’s powertrain division, said at a meeting in San Francisco. “Hopefully, we’re going to be opening up the hybrid market to more consumers.” GM was late to the hybrid game, making its first passenger vehicles—the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra hybrid pickup trucks—available to consumers in the 2005 model year. But the company hopes the Saturn hybrid SUV will help it gain on its competitors, including the ultra-popular Toyota Prius and the Honda Civic Hybrid. GM could use a big hit. Its shares have lost 48 percent of their value since December when they set a 52-week high of $40.82. The stock closed down $1.32 at $21.29 on Wednesday on trading of 35.4 million shares, more than three times the daily average. ‘We don’t want to be the company selling vacuum tubes when the rest of the world has moved to transistors.’ -Dave Barthmuss, Financial woes have plagued the company, which posted $1.6 billion in losses in the third quarter, down from a profit of $315 million in the same period last year. Earlier this month, the United Auto Workers approved a measure that will save the Detroit-based company significant healthcare costs. The company’s Saturn division has yet to turn a profit. “I think the hybrid is one of our best opportunities to become profitable over time,” said Fred Cartwright, director of technology planning for GM Powertrain. “But it’s just one of several units within Saturn that hopes to bring the right product to its customers at the right time.” He said the hybrid technology is still very expensive, and it will take a long-term commitment to bring it to profitability. “We are absolutely committed. Hybrids are a big part of our future, globally,” he said. Cost Factors A cheaper hybrid may appeal to motorists who want to cut their gasoline bills, but are put off by the fact that hybrids typically cost $3,000 to $4,000 more than conventional cars—enough to buy 1,200 to 1,600 gallons of gasoline at $2.50 per gallon. However, the company won’t disclose details about the VUE hybrid’s pricing or fuel economy until January. The Saturn hybrid’s engine will be significantly different from the hybrid system in GM pickups. The Saturn’s will include electric power assistance, which will allow the Saturn to accelerate faster, Ms. Garavaglia said. Otherwise, the powertrain will have similar features: shutting off the engine when the car is stopped, braking, or decelerating. It will also use braking to regenerate power. While hybrids still account for less than 1 percent of total U.S. vehicle sales, their numbers are growing fast. In the United States, hybrid registrations were up 81 percent in 2004 to 83,153, according to automotive research firm R.L. Polk. Toyota is the top hybrid manufacturer with a 64 percent market share in 2004. Honda is the second-largest hybrid manufacturer with 31 percent of the market last year, according to research firm J.D. Power. More Hybrids The Saturn isn’t the only hybrid GM is planning for the future. The company plans to put the same system in the Chevy Malibu, and says it will launch a third hybrid system—a two-mode hybrid that it is developing with DaimlerChrysler—in the Chevy Tahoe and GMC Yukon during 2007. Together, GM expects to launch 12 hybrids in the next few years. But the Saturn makes a sensible next step, said Mr. Cartwright. “It is one of the highest-volume SUVs on the market today,” he said. “Saturn was also very much involved in the EV1 program, so that image for Saturn has already been established. We see the Saturn VUE as a real flagship for being a real global product.” The EV1 was Saturn’s electric vehicle, which was introduced in 1996, but did not sell in large numbers. GM also hopes the hybrids will help pave the way for the larger goal—hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles. GM expects those to hit the roads in five to 10 years, said Dave Barthmuss, North Coast manager of advanced technology. Mr. Barthmuss said it is essential for GM to keep up with innovation. “We don’t want to be the company selling vacuum tubes when the rest of the world has moved to transistors,” he said. Despite its financial troubles, the company has shown no signs of decelerating investment in core technologies, Mr. Cartwright said. “With a lot of companies, typically advanced technologies could be the first to go, but that has not been the case here at all,” he said. “Still, he added, the financial issue “puts a little more uncertainty over the whole business.”
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Late??? GM has been toying with hybrids and Alternative fuels since the early 70's???? they sold info to the US military on Alternative fuels in the late 90's for there run off of every thing dirt bike.
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Should be interesting to guesstimate the EPA figures. Current SUV hybrids: Escape FWD = 36/31 Escape AWD = 33/29 Highlander/RX400h FWD = 33/28 Highlander/RX400h AWD = 31/27 The VUE FWD currently gets 23/29 MPG with 2.2L Ecotec and 5-speed manual. VUE AWD gets 22/27 with the same engine but a 4-speed auto.
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I thought this was going to be a mild hybrid. I guess GM decided to go with a full-blown one. I'm sort of indifferent to hybrids. On one hand, they give a little bit better fuel economy but on the other hand, they are just marketing gimmicks that will die off in about 10 years when alternative fuels come into play.
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I don't know, they're sort of wierd. They're releasing an SUV in Summer, and roadster in Winter. I know, it's more of the hybrid, but still. It just sounds to me that way.
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Hy-brids are not so much about saving money (Prius...$7000 to replace battery...so you can imagine the depreciation at trade in) but being envirenmentally friendly. I'm all for people driving Hy-brids and other alternative fuel vehicles 'cause it will cause gasoline prices to drop and make it cheaper for me to drive my gas guzzling V8 without DOD!!! Thanx "Tree-Huggers!!!!!!!!!" :metal: :cheers:
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To me, hybrids are a good touchy feely PR exercise....purchasers feel good about what they are driving...financially they are not further ahead and there are very clean running gasoline engines available. Some cars now produce emit cleaner emissions than the air around them.
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Just for once, I wish GM could keep things under their hat for a while. Imagine how much good press they could have had if they had surprised everyone and announced this 2 months before it went on sale?
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Just for once, I wish GM could keep things under their hat for a while.  Imagine how much good press they could have had if they had surprised everyone and announced this 2 months before it went on sale?

[post="44451"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


Good point.

It seems like the hybrid in the Vue will be more comparable to Honda's rather than Toyota's. I don't have a problem with it, just pointing out what it's related to. It's a good idea but I think an even better idea would be to put the hybrid on more popular, better selling cars that come from a brand that is actually profitable.
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I lookaed at a used Prius hybrid the other day. It didn't have many miles on it, but in the end I couldn't feel comfortable buying a used hybrid from an independant dealership. Hybrids have so many questions, I hope GM gets it right, does a LOT of long term testing before putting these things on the market. The bad press would be aweful. They also need to protect the buyer with huge-ass warranties that can be transferred.
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I think the EV1 is far from the consumer mindset and Saturns image. I'm all for the hybrid Vue, but capitalizing on the image of the EV1, which has been extinct for numerous years, is a lost cause.
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I shudder to think of these cars years from now on....on the used car dealer lots....the battery replacement will be very expensive..they are a big question mark in the long haul.
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Better late then never!!! GM seems to always be late to the game. As the worlds largest automaker you would think they would have the brains, talent, and resources to give Toyota a run for it's money. But again it's GM and Wagoner!!
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To add to what I posted earlier, I hope GM takes its time and does not rush this to market. Make sure it's as powerful as it needs to be (as it's in an SUV), smooth, etc. I'd rather have it delayed to fix the small problems than to have hundreds of recalls or bad PR for rushing it to market.
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I thought this was going to be a mild hybrid.  I guess GM decided to go with a full-blown one.  I'm sort of indifferent to hybrids.  On one hand, they give a little bit better fuel economy but on the other hand, they are just marketing gimmicks that will die off in about 10 years when alternative fuels come into play.

[post="44381"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


No, this is a mild hybrid, similar to the Accord's IMA. It cannot run on electric motor alone.
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But the Saturn makes a sensible next step, said Mr. Cartwright. “It is one of the highest-volume SUVs on the market today,” he said. “Saturn was also very much involved in the EV1 program, so that image for Saturn has already been established. We see the Saturn VUE as a real flagship for being a real global product.”

The EV1 was Saturn’s electric vehicle, which was introduced in 1996, but did not sell in large numbers.

[post="44289"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


What nimrod wrote this?

1) EV1 was a divisionless car. It carried GM badges and was leased through Saturn dealerships. In fact, it was the only GM-branded vehicle ever produced by General Motors.

2) The EV1 never "sold in large numbers." In fact, the sales total for the EV1 was ZERO. All 800+ GenI and GenII cars were leased to the owners for between $350-499/mo for 36 months, not counting federal, state, and local refunds.

GM withdrew the EV1 after CARB first withdrew their ZEV mandate. Other factors like the lack of public charging stations at time of launch and the more limited range of the first-generation lead-acid EV1.

People - like this article - love to gloss over the EV1 as if it was yet another half-baked dead-end by GM. Far from it. Keep in mind this was the very first all-new, all-original, all-electric car sold and marketed in the United States by anyone. A modified EV1 set the land speed record for production EVs at 183mph. There were even hybrid and four-seater version of the EV1 in the works.
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Better late then never!!!
GM seems to always be late to the game.
As the worlds largest automaker you would think they would have the brains, talent, and resources to give Toyota a run for it's money.

But again it's GM and Wagoner!!

[post="44551"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


GM might be later, but their final product is cheaper and simpler.

GM was slow with VVT in their engines, but the final product is simple and elegant in it's function, so much so that it makes the iVTEC, VVTi and VANOS look like Rube Goldberg machines.

GM was not the inventor of front wheel drive. I'm not sure who first, but Cord had a front wheel drive in the 30s. Cord's was quite complex and quite unreliable. GM took the idea simplified it and made it work so well that these days we have to listen to most of you dolts whining about it!! :P :P :P

The IMA in the VUE looks like it will follow this same pattern.
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People - like this article - love to gloss over the EV1 as if it was yet another half-baked dead-end by GM. Far from it. Keep in mind this was the very first all-new, all-original, all-electric car sold and marketed in the United States by anyone. A modified EV1 set the land speed record for production EVs at 183mph. There were even hybrid and four-seater version of the EV1 in the works.

[post="44601"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


Something else rarely pointed out. After GM "pulled the plug" on the EV-1 they tried to round up the vehicles out there. Many of the owners didn't want to give up the car. Some resorted to hiding them and GM had to threaten legal action to get a few of the cars back. There was an association of EV-1 owners that petitioned GM to allow them to keep their cars and waive GM of and liablity regarding them
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What nimrod wrote this?

1) EV1 was a divisionless car. It carried GM badges and was leased through Saturn dealerships. In fact, it was the only GM-branded vehicle ever produced by General Motors.

2) The EV1 never "sold in large numbers." In fact, the sales total for the EV1 was ZERO. All 800+ GenI and GenII cars were leased to the owners for between $350-499/mo for 36 months, not counting federal, state, and local refunds.

GM withdrew the EV1 after CARB first withdrew their ZEV mandate. Other factors like the lack of public charging stations at time of launch and the more limited range of the first-generation lead-acid EV1.

People - like this article - love to gloss over the EV1 as if it was yet another half-baked dead-end by GM. Far from it. Keep in mind this was the very first all-new, all-original, all-electric car sold and marketed in the United States by anyone. A modified EV1 set the land speed record for production EVs at 183mph. There were even hybrid and four-seater version of the EV1 in the works.

[post="44601"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


Saturn also managed the technology of the EV1 after its development. I have a good friend that works for Saturn in California and he was a Western Region Technical Manager and his #1 responsibility was EV1 (back then.) They also supported Saturn dealerships in the maintenance and repair of the EV1.
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I hope that GM also release a version for the other twin Thetas; Chevy is GM's mainline brand and is their main promotional outlet.
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<_< Puleaseeeee Hybrid are a marketing Exercise in distractive lying. Look at all the toxic compounds it takes to build the battery packs, extra electric parts etc. The autos create just as much toxic waste if not more than is saved by the hybrid system. Let the uninformed waste their money. A coworker traded his Highlander SUV in for the HYBID version and spent the extra 12K the dealer demanded for it. Reality check, 2 months later he is madder than a hornet as he only got a lousy 2 mile per gallon more in driving it. yea the 0-60 times are 2+ seconds faster than the non hybrid version but the end result is it is a marketing tool. No real benefits! IMO <_<
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<_<  Puleaseeeee  Hybrid are a marketing Exercise in distractive lying.

Look at all the toxic compounds it takes to build the battery packs, extra electric parts etc.  The autos create just as much toxic waste if not more than is saved by the hybrid system.  Let the uninformed waste their money.

A coworker traded his Highlander SUV in for the HYBID version and spent the extra 12K the dealer demanded for it.  Reality check, 2 months later he is madder than a hornet as he only got a lousy 2 mile per gallon more in driving it.  yea the 0-60 times are 2+ seconds faster than the non hybrid version but the end result is it is a marketing tool.  No real benefits!  IMO <_<

[post="44936"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


What your co-worker is experiencing is disappointment through misleading advertising. What Toyota and Honda are doing with their upper end hybrids is using the hybrid system in place of a supercharger. It's a way for them to get better 0-60 performance without any sacrifice in efficiency. Honda even admits to this when talking about the Accord. They are giving the customer what their cake and letting them eat it too. Edited by Oldsmoboi
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Oh, my God.. How much "cheaper" can they get? This new vehicle is going to be made out of cardboard with manual locks and windows and no air conditioning. Give it up...
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What your co-worker is experiencing is disappointment through misleading advertising.  What Toyota and Honda are doing with their upper end hybrids is using the hybrid system in place of a supercharger. It's a way for them to get better 0-60 performance without any sacrifice in efficiency. Honda even admits to this when talking about the Accord. They are giving the customer what their cake and letting them eat it too.

[post="44944"]<{POST_SNAPBACK}>[/post]


To sort of explain what he means here is an excert from Popular Science's December 2005 issue. It is a exagerated in some areas as some of the auto tech in there is...

With the latest version of parent Toyota's gasoline-electric Hybrid Synergy Drive system under the hood, the posh RX 400h is the first SUV hybrid that actually outperforms its gasoline counterpart. A 3.3-liter gasoline V6 teams up with powerful front and rear electric motors to create a four-wheel-drive RX that is not only quicker (7.3 seconds to 60 mph, against 7.8) but also vastly more fuel-efficient (31 mpg city/27 mpg highway, versus 18/24 mpg). $49,060



That is a good idea no doubt but imo i would not pay $50 grand for a hybrid with this system. Nether though would anyol' person looking to buy a "money saving" hybrid.
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