2008 Saturn Vue
GM has high expectations for its plug-in Saturn Vue Green Line

Last week, DailyTech reported that GM is set to introduce a plug-in Saturn Vue Green Line hybrid in 2008 for the 2009 model year. The company has been a bit behind in the development of hybrid power trains in relation to Toyota and Ford. The news was a welcomed announcement for the automotive industry. The market for hybrids is expected to expand from around 200,000 units per year in 2006 to 800,000 units per year in 2012.

But while the announcement of a plug-in hybrid was seen as big news for the company, this latest announcement is even more awe-inspiring. GM has stated that its plug-in Vue Hybrid will achieve 70 MPG. Those numbers seem almost unbelievable for a 3,500 pound vehicle -- even for a plug-in hybrid. For comparison, here are some mileage figures for four of the most popular hybrids on the market:

  • Toyota Prius: 60/51 (city/highway)
  • Toyota Camry Hybrid: 40/38
  • Honda Civic Hybrid: 49/51
  • Ford Escape Hybrid (4x2): 36/31

That being said, the industry is abuzz about the implications for such a fuel-efficient crossover. "They may not be as far along the development path as Toyota, but they have to maintain a perception in the market that they are pursuing and will deliver advanced technology," said Robert Toomey of E.K. Riley Advisors.

Japanese rival Nissan is also impressed with GM's new hybrid technology. "GM's plug-in hybrid technology is very exciting. It's certainly something I'd be interested in exploring," said Nissan product manager John Curl. Nissan just recently cut its ties from Toyota in hybrid development and decided to go it alone.

While Toyota is currently leading the field when it comes to sales of hybrid vehicles and is betting heavily on the technology, GM is looking to produce advanced hybrids as a mere pit stop on the way to its ultimate goal -- production hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles. "We continue to make significant progress in this area, and we continue to see fuel cells as the best long-term solution for reducing our dependence on oil," said GM CEO Rick Wagoner.

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