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SAE 2010: GM confirms next generation two-mode and mild hybrids coming

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SAE 2010: GM confirms next generation two-mode and mild hybrids coming

by Sam Abuelsamid (RSS feed) on Apr 13th 2010 at 2:18PM

AutoblogGreen had a chance to chat with Micky Bly, executive directory of hybrid vehicle development and batteries at General Motors the evening before the opening of the 2010 Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress. We asked Micky about GM's plans for hybrid vehicles going forward. While its former partners Daimler, Chrysler and BMW all seem to be backing away from the two-mode hybrid system, GM remains fully committed to the technology.

Sales of the GM's two-mode hybrid trucks started to pick up some momentum in mid-2008 before the collapse of sales that fall. Since then, those sales have been excruciatingly slow to recover. Interestingly, according to Bly, the biggest share of two-modes is actually on the Cadillac Escalade, by far the most expensive hybrid in GM's lineup.

Bly tells ABG that a secondgeneration version of the two-mode system is currently under development and should debut in two to three years. That system will focus on both cost reduction and efficiency improvement and will include both longitudinal versions for the trucks and a transaxle variant for front wheel drive vehicles. Before this new system arrives, GM will launch a front wheel drive plug-in hybrid vehicle using the hardware that was developed for the now-canceled Saturn Vue. The powertrain has been migrated to a different platform and an announcement about the application should come "soon."

On the mild hybrid front, Bly reminded us that GM sold about 30,000 units of the first-generation system that was used on the Saturn Vue and Aura and Chevy Malibu. A second-generation system will debut in 2011 that uses a more powerful 15 kilowatt starter/generator and a Hitachi lithium-ion battery pack. Although Bly declined to specify a platform, he did say it would debut in a sedan. All signs point to the Buick Regal as the first application.



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DON'T call the mild hybrid a hybrid!!

Call it "City Powerdown" or "Start/Stop" or "Ecosaver with torque boost" but do NOT call it a hybrid!

With the Gen1 system, I agree. The Hybrid term sets up expectations that were dashed with the system's real-world performance. The system made financial sense on the Vue, where it actually made a measurable difference, but it hardly made a blip on the cars, making the mild system a mockery. If the Gen2 system can make a measurable difference in real-world mpgs, though, I would say calling it a hybrid is a good marketing decision for GM.

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