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

January 08, 2003

GM to Launch Hybrid Versions of Seven Vehicle Models by 2007

General Motors Corporation (GM) announced on January 6th that it will offer hybrid electric versions of at least seven vehicle models within the next five years and could sell as many as a million hybrid vehicles per year by 2007. GM will offer three types of hybrid electric configurations in up to a dozen vehicle models.

As announced in 2001, GM is planning to introduce hybrid versions of its GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado by combining a 14-kilowatt motor with a V8 engine and using a 42-volt lead-acid battery pack for energy storage. A so-called "mild" hybrid system, the motor will provide supplemental power to the engine when needed, but the engine will always run. GM expects a 10 to 12 percent increase in fuel economy in the pickups, which will be available later this year. In 2007, GM will offer the same system for its Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon sport utility vehicles (SUVs), combined with a "displacement on demand" feature that will shut down some engine cylinders when they are not needed. That feature will add another 5 to 8 percent increase in fuel efficiency, according to GM.

In late 2005, GM plans to introduce a hybrid version of its Saturn VUE, a smaller SUV that runs on a 4- or 6-cylinder engine. The hybrid electric model will add twin 20-kilowatt electric motors and will operate as a "strong" hybrid: At low speeds, the vehicle will run on batteries alone. GM expects to achieve 50 percent gains in fuel economy while improving the vehicle's performance.

Starting in 2006, GM will begin selling its third hybrid system, which combines a belt-driven starter/alternator with a 2.4-liter engine and a 42-volt battery. Available on the upcoming Chevrolet Equinox SUV in 2006, the system will be applied to the Chevrolet Malibu sedan in 2007. GM expects to offer the system for both 4- and 6-cylinder engines, achieving an estimated 12 to 15 percent improvement in fuel economy.

GM made the announcement at the 2003 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. See the GM press releases and the video of the GM announcement. See also the May 2001 GM announcement about displacement on demand.

Meanwhile, Ford Motor Company is planning to begin producing a hybrid version of the Ford Escape SUV later this year. Ford will offer the hybrid Escape to commercial fleets this year, then offer it to consumers in mid-2004. See the Ford Hybrid Electric Vehicle Web site.