Volt Birth Watch 23: A Vue to A Kill?

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

Speaking at the North American International Auto Show, GM's head of NorAm Ops revealed that a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) version of the Saturn Vue could appear in 2010– gazumping the much-hyped Chevrolet Volt. "For the Volt we are re-engineering an entire vehicle to be optimally designed to support the architecture," Troy Clarke told Reuters. "At the Saturn Vue we are adapting an electric drive system to an existing architecture. It's a quicker way to do it." Clarke's startling announcement– who'd a thunk GM itself would steal thunder from the much-hyped Volt?– comes complete with caveats. The PHEV Saturn Vue would use "different kinds of batteries" to run 10 miles on the power pack alone, while the Chevrolet Volt is being designed to run 40 miles before the gas engine kicks-in. "We don't want to deteriorate the capability of the Vue," Clarke insisted. "It still needs to tow 3,500 pounds, which the Volt will not do. But then the Volt will be one of the most energy-efficient vehicles in the world." Question: how many potential PHEV Vue owners care about towing? Or put it this way: a PHEV Vue owner saves gas so he/she can tow a gas-burning jet-ski or snowmobile? The mind boggles.

Robert Farago
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  • Tankd0g Tankd0g on Jan 16, 2008

    30-50%? I find that hard to beleive if all they are doing is putting an electric motor in parallel with an existing drivetrain, adding hundreds of pounds rather than making it lighter for efficiency's sake.

  • Tankd0g Tankd0g on Jan 16, 2008

    Are they also saying most americans only drive 10 miles at a time? Seems whenever a car maker comes out with something that runs on batteries it's range fits perfectly with what most americans want and yet everyone has a different number.

  • Bunter1 Bunter1 on Jan 16, 2008

    tankd0g I believe GM is claiming only 25% overall MPG boost from the 2-mode system in the Tahoe. I think they are claiming 40-50% in the city cycle. This is from memory, no need for anyone to freak if I'm wrong. Cheerio, Bunter

  • KixStart KixStart on Jan 16, 2008

    Bunter1, that's more or less correct. Most of the Tahoe highway economy comes from improving the aerodynamics a little bit, possibly from an Atkinson cycle engine (I'm not 100% sure it has that) and, maybe, from different tires. Around town, shutting the engine off when it isn't needed makes a BIG difference, as does energy recapture from regenerative braking (every time you stop, you refill the battery with almost enough juice to re-accelerate to your former speed). The improved aerodynamics, of course, could be applied to ANY Tahoe (wish they would!). And I believe you can't get a roofrack on the hybrid Tahoe any more (hurts the aerodynamics). --- The modest improvement in economy with the BAS ("mild" hybrid) system would be great except that it's an extra $2400 (Aura example). It would be far more attractive for, say, $500 extra. It would be more impressive if it was included in the base 4-cylinder at no extra charge. Hmmm... in fact, the real price differential is greater than the $2400 of the invoice, because the base 4-cylinder Aura comes with a $1000 incentive that the Green Line does not have. For about the same money as an Aura Green Line, one could get a Prius.