Kobe’s Future Car?
My obsession with new fuel efficient cars continues:
[T]he big news is with the new Vue Green Line which will make its debut in 2008. Ford’s Escape Hybrid is paired with a meager 133HP inline-4 engine, while the Vue Green Line will feature GM’s power 3.6 liter V6. The first iteration of the Vue Green Line will feature GM's 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.
Sounds a bit dicey, like a press release issued for the benefit of stockholders. Still, it's nice to know that GM is headed in the right direction. I know most auto engineers believe that hybrids are a technology to tide them over until they can develop cost efficient hydrogen fuel-cell powered vehicles, but it's encouraging to know that GM has acknowledged both that there is a problem and they're a bit behind the eight ball on it.