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

November 12, 2003

GM Shifts Hybrid Electric Plans to Focus on "Strong" Hybrids

General Motors Corporation (GM) announced on November 6th that it will launch "strong" hybrid electric versions of its full-size sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and pickup trucks, starting in 2007. A "strong" hybrid is capable of running on electric power only at low speeds (as in today's Toyota Prius). The vehicles will also feature GM's "Displacement on Demand" technology, which shuts down unneeded cylinders when the engine is running at low loads. Using both technologies, GM expects to improve the vehicles' fuel economies by about 30 percent.

Meanwhile, GM has dropped plans to introduce a strong-hybrid Saturn VUE sedan in 2006, and will instead launch a Saturn VUE featuring an alternator that doubles as a starter, allowing the engine to shut off at a stop. That model, to be launched in spring of 2006, will also include a continuously variable transmission. The two features should boost the car's mileage by 12 to 15 percent. See the GM press release.

The new GM plans are a significant departure from the company's January announcement, when it had planned "mild" hybrid versions of two pickups and two SUVs, meaning that the engine would always run and the motor would provide supplementary power (as in today's Honda Insight and Honda Civic Hybrid). GM had also planned to introduce the starter/alternator feature on an SUV and on the Chevrolet Malibu sedan. See the January 8th article from the EERE Network News.

Ford Motor Company is launching its own strong hybrid, the Ford Escape Hybrid, beginning next summer. The 2005 Ford Escape Hybrid is expected to achieve between 35 and 40 miles per gallon in city driving, with low emissions. Ford will build the vehicle in Kansas City, Missouri. See the Ford press release.