This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

January 23, 2008

Detroit Auto Show Features New Hybrid and Diesel Models

Photo of the Saturn Vue Green Line 2 Mode hybrid on the stage in Detroit.

The 2009 Saturn Vue Green Line 2 Mode hybrid upgrades the current hybrid with General Motors' two-mode hybrid system.
Credit: General Motors Corporation

The North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), which continues through January 27 in Detroit, Michigan, features not only next-generation plug-in hybrids and electric and fuel cell vehicles, but also fuel-efficient hybrid and diesel models that may soon hit showroom floors. For instance, the Saturn division of General Motors Corporation (GM) unveiled the 2009 Saturn Vue Green Line 2 Mode hybrid, which will go on sale later this year. The SUV will be the first front-wheel-drive vehicle to incorporate GM's two-mode hybrid system, combining two small electric motors into an advanced transmission. Featuring a V-6 direct-injection engine, the new hybrid SUV is expected to achieve a 50% increase in fuel economy over the non-hybrid version. In contrast, the current Saturn Vue Green Line Hybrid features a simpler motor/generator and achieves only a 20% improvement in fuel economy over the non-hybrid version. The Saturn Vue Green Line 2 Mode will accelerate to 60 miles per hour in about 7.3 seconds and can tow up to 3,500 pounds, while meeting strict California emissions standards. See the GM press release.

Honda arrived at the Detroit Auto Show without any new world premieres for hybrids, showing instead its fuel cell vehicle and the CR-Z hybrid sports car concept that was first unveiled at the 2007 Tokyo Auto Show. Honda President Takeo Fukui did, however, announce that Honda plans to introduce a future hybrid sports model based on the CR-Z concept. According to Fukui, Honda will also introduce a new hybrid small car next year, featuring a newly developed hybrid system that is more lightweight and compact. Honda expects the new hybrid to achieve a high fuel economy at a more affordable price. See the Honda press release and the article from the EERE Network News on the Tokyo Auto Show.

Like many other automakers, Honda is also shifting toward clean diesel engines that take advantage of the ultra-low sulfur diesel fuel that is now available throughout the United States. Honda announced that it will incorporate a turbocharged clean diesel engine in an Acura model next year. Toyota is following suit, including a note in its plug-in hybrid announcement of soon offering a clean diesel V8 in its Tundra pickups and Sequoia SUVs. Meanwhile, Daimler's Mercedes-Benz is looking a bit more toward the future. The company unveiled two versions of a compact SUV concept, each powered by a 4-cylinder clean diesel engine, as well as a diesel hybrid concept and a gasoline hybrid concept. See the press releases from Honda and Toyota, and Daimler Media.