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November 14, 2007

Cadillac and Porsche Plan Luxury Hybrid SUVs


Photo of the Escalade Hybrid, which has the word hybrid in large capital letters on its door. The car sits on a turntable display with large photos in the background.

The Cadillac Escalade Hybrid was unveiled at the South Florida International Auto Show in early November. See a larger version of this photo.
Credit: © GM Corp.

Both Cadillac and Porsche are introducing the U.S. public to their future hybrid sport utility vehicles (SUVs) in November. Early in the month, Cadillac unveiled the 2009 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid at the South Florida International Auto Show in Miami. Employing General Motors' 2-Mode hybrid system, which incorporates two small electric motors into the transmission, the Escalade Hybrid is expected to achieve a 45% increase in fuel economy in city driving, compared to the standard Escalade. The 2-Mode hybrid system will debut this year in the 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid and the 2008 GMC Yukon Hybrid, and the first 2-Mode hybrid transmissions started rolling off the assembly line at General Motor's Baltimore Transmission Plant in late October. See the GM press release.

The Escalade's electrically variable transmission is mounted to a V-8 engine that operates on the modified Atkinson cycle, delaying the closure of the intake valve to allow the engine to suck air more easily into its cylinders. Under low-load conditions, the engine also deactivates four of its eight cylinders, a feature that Cadillac calls "Active Fuel Management." To make the most of its hybrid features, the Escalade Hybrid also features an electrically driven compressor for its air conditioning and electrically driven power steering. The vehicle will go on sale next summer. See the Escalade Hybrid Web site and the Cadillac press release (PDF 819 KB). Download Adobe Reader.

Meanwhile, Porsche AG is preparing to introduce its Cayenne Hybrid to North American audiences at the Los Angeles Auto Show, which starts on November 16th. The Cayenne Hybrid is expected to achieve 26 miles per gallon under tougher European standards and will go on sale "before the end of this decade," according to Porsche. The company is also reminding the auto show attendees of its history by displaying the electric-drive Lohner-Porsche, Ferdinand Porsche's first major project from back in 1900. It features in-wheel electric motors, and in 1901, Porsche added a combustion engine that powered an electric generator, thereby creating the world's first hybrid electric vehicle. See the Porsche press release.

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