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Print 23 comment(s) - last by number999.. on Dec 8 at 5:16 PM

GM cranks it up a notch with hybrid powertrains

It looks as though while Ford is bringing its leftovers to the hybrid party, but GM is firing on all cylinders with its new 2008 Saturn. Saturn's new Vue is a ground up redesign based on the European market Opel Antera. The new compact SUV will be available in variety of trim/powertrain combinations including a new 2-mode hybrid system.

Whereas the Escape tops out with a 200HP 3.0 liter V6, the Vue brings in GM's new corporate 3.6 liter V6 with 250HP (lesser 3.5 liter V6 and 2.4 liter I-4 models are also available).The other niceties expected in the compact SUV class such as a 6-speed automatic transmission (V6 models), standard traction control and StabiliTrack (V6 models), front/side/head curtain airbags and a rollover sensing system are also included in the package.

In late 2007, GM will transfer its existing belt-driven hybrid powertrain found in the current generation Saturn Vue Green Line to the all-new Vue platform. The vehicle will be powered by a 4-cylinder engine and will boost fuel economy by 20%.

But the big news is what GM has in store for the Vue Green Line's powertrain in 2008. The Vue Green Line will get GM’s powerful 3.6 liter V6 and new 2-mode hybrid system which will debut next year on the Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon full-size SUVs.

In the first mode, the system will work in a manner similar to that of Toyota and Ford’s hybrid systems – the electric motors can power the vehicle at slow to moderate speeds with the gasoline engine kicking in at higher speeds or when more passing power is required. In the second mode, which is triggered during highway cruising, cylinder deactiviation and other tweaks are used to improve fuel economy even further.

In 2009, however, GM plans to introduce plug-in capabilities to the 2-mode Vue Green Line. The vehicle would have the option of charging from a common household exterior 110-volt outlet. With the lithium-ion batteries fully topped off, the driver would be able to travel more than 10 miles on only electric power. Although some adventurous Prius owners have voided their warranties to create their own plug-in system for their vehicles, this would be the first OEM offering available to the public.

For those that work close to home, it could be quite possible to leave your driveway in the morning with a fully topped off battery and travel all the way to work on electric power alone. With a traditional hybrid system, your results may vary as it is unlikely that your batteries would be fully charged when you first turn the key in the morning.

“The technological hurdles are real, but we believe they are also surmountable. I can’t give you a production date for our plug-in hybrid today. But I can tell you that this is a top priority program for GM, given the huge potential it offers for fuel-economy improvement," said Rick Wagoner, GM Chairman and CEO.



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GM finally on the bandwagon
By number999 on 11/29/2006 9:06:46 PM , Rating: 2
It took them long enough to finally get into the hybrid game. I've read statement's from all the CEO's of US based car companies trashing conservation in cars, making me think of right before the '73 oil crunch and look what happened - gas gets little expensive and now they're singing a different tune. I've got this stupid GM VISA credit card getting GM dollars and I can't stand present GM cars.

For those who want to see alternative fuel strategy costs:
http://autos.msn.com/advice/CRArt.aspx?contentid=4...
this one has a comparison chart:
http://www.csmonitor.com/2006/0801/p01s02-usec.htm...

There was a great magazine article last year with pros and cons and charts for the different fuels but I can't remember what magazine I actually saw it in ....maybe pop mechanics or pop science. But electricity costs in terms of gasoline gallon equailent energy was one of the cheapest around. Prius PHEV is about $0.03/mi ($0.019/km), based on 0.262 kWh / mile and a cost of electricity of 0.10 $ / kWh from the Wikipedia PHEV link. They also say a a dollar of electricity would be equivalent to a gallon of gasoline.

Here's a great article on what it takes to make a 100 MPG car - http://www.popularmechanics.com/automotive/how_to/...

I have to love diesels for their milage but they are still conventional cars. The TDI Lupo diesel probably represents the limits of the technology and it got around 70 MPG (see above popular mech issue link). Plug in hybrid vehicles probably will be able to commercially hit or break the 100 MPG mark.

I still don't believe in the greening of any of these car companies. Legally, they are still joined in fighting any legislature promoting better fuel performance at the same time doing stuff like this, hoping gas prices drop so that they can sell the old hulking vehicles for their better margins.

What's really horrible is this
quote:
In order to use NiMH batteries without violating Chevron's patents, hybrid automobile manufacturers are required to design vehicles which are at least 50% powered by gasoline; otherwise, they are limited to the use of "D" cell-sized NiMH ("small format") batteries
from the Wikipedia PHEV link. Thank you Chevron.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hybrid_vehicle
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plug-in_hybrid_electr...
Great site for hybrid vehicles from the union of concerned scientists.
http://www.hybridcenter.org/




RE: GM finally on the bandwagon
By Eris23007 on 11/30/2006 4:48:15 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
What's really horrible is this

quote:

In order to use NiMH batteries without violating Chevron's patents, hybrid automobile manufacturers are required to design vehicles which are at least 50% powered by gasoline; otherwise, they are limited to the use of "D" cell-sized NiMH ("small format") batteries

from the Wikipedia PHEV link. Thank you Chevron.


Well done. You have just cited a Wikipedia article in order to deliver a politically-motivated slam against a corporation.

...The only problem: that statement has a "citation needed" tag next to it in Wikipedia.

Regardless, EVs, HEVs and PHEVs are going to Li-Ion and other battery technologies anyway (see Tesla) as they can store greater energy densities per unit weight.

Jacob


RE: GM finally on the bandwagon
By number999 on 12/2/2006 8:00:13 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
You have just cited a Wikipedia article in order to deliver a politically-motivated slam against a corporation

You only have to google the Chevron battery patents to get a whole slew of information on Cobasys and it's litigous manouvering to limit the use of NiMH batteries. Like for instance
http://www.evworld.com/blogs/index.cfm?page=blogen...
or the actual words for the mouth of the inventor who was in "who killed the electric car". As for being politically motivated who said I was? I think by just simply dismissing it and labeling it, you too have an agenda.

Did you even try to look up other information. How about
http://www.ev1.org/chevron.htm
A lot of the stuff is still court order sealed but Chevron's actions speak louder than their words by shutting off anyone else from even exporting usuable already designed/made batteries.


RE: GM finally on the bandwagon
By number999 on 12/8/2006 5:16:34 PM , Rating: 2
Would like to add an adjunct. From what article I've been able to put together it is the larger capacity batteries than have been affected. There seems to be restrictions on the use of batteries for traction uses in deals with China. Chevron may have stepped into the situation when money was needed to fight Panasonic with fighting patent claims. Some battery packs (GM) actually are made from D sized batteries and I don't know how that fits in with the patent. Hobbyists and owners of EV's have been trying to get larger batteries or replacements like the EV-95 but have been blocked.

Overall, the link maybe a bit overstated but there does seem to be some problems with NiMH battery acquisition/production with respect to the patent holder and the US.


Oh dear...
By GotDiesel on 11/29/2006 5:32:34 PM , Rating: 2
When are you americans going to wake up and produce or import european diesels ?

I own a 2002 VW Jetta Turbo diesel, it makes the prius look stupid.. i average 48+ mpg with a mix of 30% town 70% hwy.. at 75 mph
it's clean ( unlike those nasty american trucks ) quiet and very fast.. and drives like a real car..
hybrid is just political .. not a good solution at all..




RE: Oh dear...
By NegativeEntropy on 11/29/2006 6:18:04 PM , Rating: 2
Amen! We are finally getting/got Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel here in the US this year, but I understand (without researching) that our emissions laws still favor gas over diesel.

The VW TDI is the ONLY passenger car diesel available in the US last I checked, though I read they were pulling the TDI off the market for half a year to retool the fuel system this year.

From a thermodynamic effeciency standpoint, it's hard to beat a turbocharged diesel in the internal combustion realm.


RE: Oh dear...
By ajfink on 11/29/2006 8:29:54 PM , Rating: 2
I would actually favor a diesel hybrid, for even greater efficiency.


Fuel Cells
By rykerabel on 11/30/2006 10:15:59 AM , Rating: 3
Funny, fuel consumption devices are trying to switch to batteries while battery consumption devices are trying to switch to fuel.

/read as: Notebook computers my be useing fuel cells soon, etc etc etc.

Just more interesting info to fuel the wheels of invention
(all puns intended, sorry, but thats just the way i am sometimes)




$$
By Alphafox78 on 11/29/06, Rating: -1
RE: $$
By panda10 on 11/29/2006 3:09:41 PM , Rating: 1
You're wrong.

Why would people void their Prius warranties to add in plug in capability if the cost of juicing is more than the cost of gas? Do a little reading online and you'll see analysis has been done showing the cost of electricity required to take a care a certain distance is far lower than the cost of gas required to take the car the same distance and carbon produced generating that electricity is far less than the emissions from a car buring that amount of gasoline.

When you say electricity costs more than gas- by what measure? You can't be electricity by the gallon.


RE: $$
By Moishe on 11/29/2006 3:26:25 PM , Rating: 2
Your argument is circumstantial. You can't just say it's cheaper because "why else would people break their warranties?"

I don't know which one is cheaper, but when I search, I can't find any hard numbers. Can you provide a link? This kind of information needs to be disseminated so that it can counter FUD from either side.

Certainly if I was going to buy a hybrid car, I'd want the plug in option even if electricity was more expensive. Heck, if you run out of gas and are near a plug, it would be nice to not waste $$ on a new gas can and time walking/hitching.

Hybrids are not ready for me yet though. I want the range, the price, the maintenance costs, etc of gas only cars before I'm willing to shell out that much money.


RE: $$
By panda10 on 11/29/2006 5:06:07 PM , Rating: 2
Circumstantial? My argument was not the statement about people breaking their warranties- that was for illustration purposes to reinforce my argument- which was:

"Do a little reading online and you'll see analysis has been done showing the cost of electricity required to take a care a certain distance is far lower than the cost of gas required to take the car the same distance and carbon produced generating that electricity is far less than the emissions from a car buring that amount of gasoline."

And I meant just that- do a little research. There is plenty of information on plug-in hybrid tech.

http://www.calcars.org/vehicles.html

Just one link. But its good and will provide lots of basic info.


RE: $$
By Moishe on 11/30/2006 8:05:26 AM , Rating: 2
I know this will probably get me flamed, but the emissions to me are a distant second to price. If I have to pay more to get fewer emissions, I'll gladly continue to pay less and emit more. Not all of us have the ability to pay extra for basic necessities (like transportation).

That link looks full of info and was not one I was able to find earlier - thanks.

If this is true, then plug in hybrids would be a huge deal. The electric companies should like it too since their income will go up. What we need is outlets (for cars) in the parking decks in the downtown areas. If I could get to work on one charge and then plug in for the drive back home..... that'd be sweet. The parking providers would have to charge for the service or something... The range limit on elec. only would be a big problem for most people, myself included.


RE: $$
By praeses on 11/29/2006 3:10:39 PM , Rating: 2
The Prius has a 1.5KWH, I don't know about this car, but lets just say its 3KWH, and charging is only 50% efficient (its much closer to 75% IIRC). So if you use 6KWH to go 10KM (would be 16KM according to article but just in case they do run crappy, lets say they only go 10KM), versus a car that gets 30MPG(7.84KM/L)....

Electric : 10KM = 6KWH * $0.06($/KWH) = $0.36
Gas : 10KM * 0.074L/KM * $0.959/L = $0.71

And I'm favouring the Gas side /drastically/ in comparison. I think electric is cheaper. Oh, I'm in Canada.


RE: $$
By ninjit on 11/29/2006 3:11:33 PM , Rating: 3
I'm not sure where you got that idea from.

Electrical power for transportation is MUCH cheaper than gasoline by a long shot.

The Tesla Roadster (which is a SPORTS car) gets 200 Watt-hours per mile = 0.2 kWh / mile

Here in CA, my last bill was $13 for 225 kWh = $0.055 / kWh.

So for me driving the Roadster would cost $0.01 / mile.

Take a regular car that would do say 30 mpg, and a gallon of gas costs around $2.50 here.
So the cost per mile is $0.08.

That's a HUGE difference. And comparing to something like a Honda Civic on the gas side, another equivalent sports car (like a Lotus) would be more like $0.12/mile.

Driving from San Diego to San Francisco (~500 miles) would cost me $5 with the electric car, vs $40 with the gas civic. $60 with another equivalent sports car!

The main barrier to this is battery capacity, the Tesla Roadster uses a half-ton lithium ion battery pack to get it's estimated 250 mile range. This should be less of a problem with big trucks and SUVs, because the battery pack becomes a smaller and smaller percentage of the overall weight, AND the electric motors are much lighter than the IC engines they would be replacing.

The other barrier of course is that Auto makers make almost 50% of their income on after-sales parts and maintenance.
And all electric vehicle has far far fewer parts to service and replace. Which is why they don't like the idea of an all electric car.


RE: $$
By ninjit on 11/29/2006 3:24:54 PM , Rating: 2
Correction:

I read my bill wrong, the electric charge was twice what I stated above.
so that's $0.02/mile for the roadster
vs. $0.08/mile for the civic.

Still a big difference.

Tesla also states a 135 mpg equivalence for the roadster, based on energy content and efficiency calculations vs. gasoline. But I think that's a silly number, you can't compare them that way.

You can compare them on cost (as above), and emmissions seperately.

Emissions get's tougher to work out because for electric you'd have to consider Power-generation to transmission to battery efficiencies, along with the various fractions of sources that contribute to the power you get in your home (coal, nuclear, wind, hydro, etc.).
And similarly you need to consider all the emissions for gasoline too from oil well to refinining to transportation, and finally tail-pipe emissions.



RE: $$
By VooDooAddict on 11/29/2006 4:17:17 PM , Rating: 1
"The other barrier of course is that Auto makers make almost 50% of their income on after-sales parts and maintenance.
And all electric vehicle has far far fewer parts to service and replace. Which is why they don't like the idea of an all electric car."

Another fan of "Who killed the electric car?" ?

I'm going to try to not buy another new car untill I can have a OEM supported fully electric (i.e. plug in). I'll be buying used or sticking to two wheels.

I really hope new car makers like Tesla start to succeded in this area. Start changing the landscape of auto sales.


RE: $$
By Marlowe on 11/29/2006 4:46:04 PM , Rating: 1
Hehe I also saw "Who killed the electric car?" No doubt an interesting movie. :P

I wonder what GM is trying to do at the moment. Haven't we had two or three articles here in the last days about "green" cars from GM? Where did that come from suddenly? Are they really giving in to public pressure or are this just another publicity stunt to make them appear more sympathic? I guess the latter..

I read a cool thing the other day:
quote:
The total weight of the EV 1 by General Motors without batteries is 816 kg. With the batteries the weight goes to 1550 kg. The power supply consists of 26 Lead-Acid batteries of 53 Ah each, which weigh 736 kg i.e. almost half of the total weight of the car. Without recharge the EV 1 runs 145 km on highway and in city traffic about 115 km.

With a Partanen technology battery weighing 60 kg, and with a volume 40 liters it would have a capacity of 80 kWh. Installed in a 816 kg EV 1 it could run 870 km on highway and 690 km in the city traffic.
http://peswiki.com/index.php/Directory:Europositro...

It's no doubt the future is electric.. :P
Btw the Tesla Roadster rulez ;)


RE: $$
By Pandamonium on 11/29/2006 3:11:37 PM , Rating: 2
I always thought electricity was cheaper than gas. I could be wrong though.

If it weren't, that doesn't address the fact that some people buy hybrids for environmentally conscious reasons. The numbers don't quantify all margins on which people base their purchases.


RE: $$
By jconan on 11/29/2006 11:23:25 PM , Rating: 2
it wasn't too long ago during clinton's era when electricity was deregulated ie the enron scandal where electricity was more expensive than gasoline? now that electricity is cheaper it still doesn't seem plausible to wait to charge your vehicle when you need to use it right away. (time to charge = wasted $/productivity time imagine all those ups trucks sitting in the yard waiting for a full charge before they deliver packages) it still takes forever to charge considering if someone was on the go. same with cng vehicles especially buses and tow trucks, it takes hours to fuel up a cng vehicle.


RE: $$
By ninjit on 11/30/2006 1:28:51 AM , Rating: 2
True, but that's why you're supposed to charge it every night. That was it's at full capacity and ready to go in the morning when you need it.

And with ~200 mile ranges on current Lithium-ion batteries, thats more than enough for most people's daily activities and commutes. This of course isn't viable for long trips.

Yes, it would be problem if you never remembered to charge it, and ran out of juice at some point in a drive, but I'm guessing the systems are smart enough to let you know long before that would occur, and a lot of it will require good habits, just like if you forget to charge your cellphone one night, you might be screwed the next day.


RE: $$
By OrSin on 11/29/2006 3:11:55 PM , Rating: 2
Gas cost me $200 a month. I really doubt plugging a car would run anywhere close to that. 10 mile on electric only seems very low to me.


RE: $$
By OrSin on 11/29/2006 3:11:56 PM , Rating: 2
Gas cost me $200 a month. I really doubt plugging a car would run anywhere close to that. 10 mile on electric only seems very low to me.


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