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Saturn Aura Green Line
The Saturn Aura Green Line starts at $22,695 including destination charge

General Motors has officially announced pricing for its 2007 Saturn Aura Green Line hybrid sedan. The vehicle will retail for $22,695 including destination charge and will also be eligible for a $1,300 tax credit from the federal government for 2007 tax returns.

For comparison, the Honda Civic Hybrid, Nissan Altima Hybrid, Toyota Prius and Toyota Camry Hybrid are priced from $22,985, $25,015, $22,975 and $26,820 respectively, including destination charge.

The 2007 Aura Green Line is considered to be a "mild hybrid" since it cannot move forward under electric power alone. The Aura Green Line hybrid powertrain (164HP 2.4 liter 4-cylinder plus electric motor/generator) is capable of providing mild electric assistance under acceleration, stopping the engine when the vehicle comes to a stop and starting it back up again when the gas is pressed. The car also takes advantage of regenerative braking to help recharge the battery pack.

The Aura Green Line boasts EPA ratings of 28MPG/35MPG city/highway compared to 20/30 for an Aura with the 224HP 3.5 liter V6 and 20/28 for the Aura with the 252HP 3.6 liter V6.

A more viable comparison may be with the Pontiac G6 base sedan. This vehicle is the Saturn Aura's platform-mate and also uses the 2.4 liter 4-cylinder engine and transmission without the hybrid add-ons. EPA ratings for the G6 are 23/33 city/highway which means that the Aura Green Line’s hybrid system affords the driver an additional 5MPG in the city and 2MPG on the highway.

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Hybrids Can't Touch This!
By skroh on 3/19/2007 10:35:50 PM , Rating: 2
Seen this article?

The Prius, rated at 51 MPG highway, actually got 42. The Honda Hybrid hit its rated mileage at 33.9 vs. 34. But the VW Jetta TDI turbodiesel was rated 42 and scored 49.9. Not only that, the test drivers considered it to be the most pleasant and ergonomic car in the test. I went to a VW dealer shortly after reading the article--he had printed copies of it to hand out, and the Jetta TDI was marked up $3,000 over sticker. Nice!

So much for my secret weapon. But still incredible for a "normal" car, and it makes any and all of the hybrids look pathetic on both fuel economy and driveability. The list price is right around that of the Saturn and the Prius.

Last I heard there was some problem with the new U.S. diesel standards that was going to prevent the importation of the '07 TDI--don't know if they ever worked around the issue. But what a car! Until hybrids can do at least as well, why bother? Especially when you can up the green factor by running the TDI on BioDiesel...

All that to say, a "hybrid" that gets 35 MPG HWY? Why bother?

RE: Hybrids Can't Touch This!
By Hoser McMoose on 3/20/2007 2:34:46 PM , Rating: 2
Of course, the real question to ask here is why aren't more companies making hybrids with diesel engines?!

There's absolutely nothing about the basic concept of a hybrid that limits it to a gasoline engine. However PSA is the only company I know of that is actively working on a diesel-electric hybrid. They have a Peugeot 307cc Hybrid concept car that is rated for 4.1L/100km (slightly better then the Prius' 4.3L/100km) and a smaller engined Citroen C4 Hybrid concept that manages 3.4L/100km.

Of course, the downside with diesel is air pollution. While they use less fuel, the fuel they do burn is dirtier with more particulate emissions. In Europe regulations tend to focus much more on greenhouse gas emissions, where diesels are better. However in North America we focus more on air pollution and smog causing emissions, and here diesels tend to struggle. Newer diesels (and the new diesel fuel regulations) have improved though, and a well designed hybrid with a CVT transmission should be better still since a lot of the air pollution comes from running the engine outside of it's 'ideal' rev range.

RE: Hybrids Can't Touch This!
By jak3676 on 3/20/2007 10:09:08 PM , Rating: 2
I'll 2nd the call for more diesel in the US. I picked up a VW TDI when I left Germany in 2005 (US Spec). Best car I've ever driven. If you have a lot of highway driving, nothing can come close. I make the trip from D.C. to Florida on a single tank of gas with gallons to spare (about 650 miles per tank or 52 MPG). That's even averaging over 70 MPH the entire way. I'd challenge the hybrids to do the same drive at the same speeds with anywhere above 40 MPG.

The above poster hit it dead on in terms of pollution. Diesels do put off more Nox and Sulfur, but a lot less of everything else. A lot of that has to do with the poor quality diesel available in the US. We recently lowered the sulfur content (15 ppm instead of 500), but didn't take it far enough. If you run a good mix of biodiesel you can really reduce your emissions. And its good for your car too - better lubrication qualities in the fuel. If you look at total amount of waste gasses produced, diesels are better than gasoline. But the EPA can't seem to figure that out in the US. They continue to try to make diesels fit into the same specs as gasoline engines.

Manufacturing biodiesel is generally more efficient than ethanol too. It takes a lot of energy to produce corn based ethanol. In the end you only marginally come out ahead (in the neighborhood of 25%). Some of the biodiesel production takes only 1/3 of the energy to produce a similar amount of fuel. In other words with the energy equivalent of 1 gallon of fuel you can produce a little over 1.25 gallons of corn based ethanol or over 4 gallons of soy-based biodiesel.

Gasoline based US vehicles have a problem with more than about a 20% mix of ethanol (without modification). Almost all diesels can run up to 100% biodiesel without any modification. For the few US cars than do run 85% ethanol you only get 85% as much MPG as well. You don't loose much going to 85% biodiesel.

As far as diesel + hybrid. Yes, we need to work at that as well. You just have to realize that it will be different than gasoline hybrids. Diesel + Hybrid is definitely possible - I think every modern locomotive has been a diesel hybrid for decades now. Diesels don't work well to have the engine switching off and on. They do best at a constant (low) RPM. Instead of a gas engine based car that gets extra power from a battery for acceleration, you'll want to design a totally electric car that gets recharged from a small diesel engine. Diesels already have a lot of efficiency that hybrids do. For example, diesels will drastically cut the amount of fuel sent into a cylinder when it’s not needed (coasting). Gasoline engines have a very narrow band for amount of fuel for any given RPM. The standard diesel idea of cutting your fuel flow to the engine may not be as good as just turning off the engine, but its a start. I think the day will come, but some further improvements in battery tech will help.

RE: Hybrids Can't Touch This!
By Zoomer on 3/21/2007 4:24:05 PM , Rating: 2
"Let's face it, we're not changing the world. We're building a product that helps people buy more crap - and watch porn." -- Seagate CEO Bill Watkins

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