Front-Wheel-Drive, 2-Mode Hybrid System to Debut in 2008

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General Motors will expand the industry's most diverse portfolio of hybrid technologies in 2008 with the debut of its front-wheel-drive, 2-mode hybrid system in the Saturn Vue Green Line SUV, the automaker announced at the Greater Los Angeles Auto Show. By using this sophisticated hybrid technology, the Vue Green Line 2-mode Hybrid is expected to deliver up to a 45-percent improvement in combined city and highway fuel economy compared with the non-hybrid Vue, based on current federal test procedures.

"We are delivering on our promise to continue our steady rollout of additional hybrid applications, each offering different levels of affordability, fuel savings and performance," said Tom Stephens, GM group vice president, GM Powertrain. "This will be the auto industry's first front-wheel-drive vehicle to use a 2-mode hybrid system, which improves fuel economy while maintaining performance and capability."

The Vue Green Line 2-mode Hybrid SUV will be powered by GM's 3.6L V-6 gas engine, with direct injection and variable valve timing, a nickel-metal hydride battery pack and two active cooled permanent magnet motors. The front-wheel-drive, 2-mode hybrid system optimizes city and highway fuel efficiency by integrating two electric continuously variable modes with four fixed mechanical gear ratios. This design is similar to the 2-mode hybrid system for rear-wheel-drive applications, which will debut next year in the Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon full-size SUVs.

The 2-mode hybrid system improves fuel economy by the following operations:

  • Engine off at idle
  • Low speed electric-only propulsion
  • Electric boosting during brisk acceleration, climbing steep grades or towing
  • Cutting off fuel to the engine during vehicle deceleration
  • Regenerative braking
  • Engine speed and load control

"The 2-mode hybrid system has the flexibility to improve fuel efficiency across a range of vehicles," Stephens said. "For example, in 2003, we introduced the 2-mode hybrid system for transit buses. In 2007, the Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon 2-mode full-size SUVs will debut, followed by the Vue Green Line 2-mode in 2008."By using two electric modes and four fixed gear ratios, the 2-mode hybrid system’s electric motors are smaller, compared with traditional "one-mode" hybrid systems, and impose no significant limitation on the size of the engine. Consequently, the 2-mode hybrid system fits into the same space as a conventional automatic transmission, minimizing packaging, cost and weight issues. The result is exciting performance and outstanding fuel economy.

Source: General Motors

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