November 7, 2003

GM full-size SUVs, pickups to get hybrid powertrains

Detroit, Michigan – General Motors will make gas-electric hybrid powertrains available on its next-generation of full-size sport-utility vehicles and pick-up trucks, said the company on Thursday. The hybrid full-size SUVs and pick-ups, which debut in 2007, also will feature GM’s Displacement on Demand cylinder deactivation technology. Together the technologies will achieve a fuel economy improvement of about 30 percent.

Chevrolet Tahoe hybrid
Chevrolet Tahoe hybrid
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“As we’ve said before, GM’s strategy is to go after the highest fuel consuming vehicles first,” said Thomas G. Stephens, group vice president, GM Powertrain. “We believe this strong hybrid on a full-size truck will save twice as much fuel per mile as a comparable small hybrid vehicle – with no compromise in performance or utility.”

With the addition of the full-size truck hybrid program, the advanced hybrid system announced for the 2006 Saturn VUE earlier this year is discontinued. Instead, the Saturn VUE in spring of 2006 will get GM’s Belt Alternator Starter (BAS) hybrid system coupled to a CVT, which will get an estimated fuel-economy improvement of 12 percent to 15 percent.

The hybrid system builds on knowledge from the development of the GM Allison parallel hybrid electric system for buses. Besides Seattle, Allison hybrid transit buses are in pilot programs in Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Portland, Salt Lake City, Austin, Houston, and Newark, as well as Orange County, Calif., and Hartford, Conn. The buses achieve fuel savings of up to 60 percent; the King County fleet alone will save an estimated 750,000 gallons of fuel annually.

In addition to the hybrid trucks and BAS Saturn VUE, GM currently is producing a parallel hybrid truck, which goes on sale to fleet customers this year and retail customers next year.

Hybrids represent the mid-term component of GM’s integrated propulsion strategy. GM also has a lot of activity on short-term technologies aimed at fuel-economy improvements on the internal combustion engine, including Displacement on Demand, continuously variable transmissions, alternative fuels and clean diesels. GM sees these technologies as important stepping-stones to hydrogen fuel cells.

“The advanced technology race is a marathon, not a sprint,” said Larry Burns, vice president, Research & Development and Planning. “The technology we’re announcing today will provide significant fuel savings on some of our most popular vehicles, without sacrificing performance.”

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