The S.A.E. Hearts GM's Two-Mode Hybrid

the s a e hearts gms two mode hybrid

The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) kicks off its annual conference today in Detroit. To raise awareness among those of us who know that "Spring Break" has nothing to do with metal fatigue, the readers and editors of SAE's Automotive Engineering International have dubbed GM's Tahoe/Yukon Hybrid the "Best Engineered Vehicle of 2008." "General Motors has significantly re-engineered its class-leading full-size sport utility vehicles – the Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon – with the first application of groundbreaking hybrid technology," fawns AEI editor Kevin Jost. Actually, Jost could have gone one step further: other than Chrysler's Aspen, the General's hybrid utes are the only current application of the overcomplicated, expensive two-mode system developed jointly with BMW and DaimlerChrysler. While car folks (like us) blame the two-mode Tahoe variously for GM's downfall and early-onset buyers remorse, engineers apparently only care that it's… overcomplicated. On the other hand, at least the tens of millions that GM dumped on dead-end two-mode technology has finally impressed somebody.

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  • Jolo Jolo on Apr 14, 2008

    oops, my bad...

  • AET2009 AET2009 on Apr 14, 2008

    I am a member of SAE and was unaware of any sort of voting. I may have seen it in the Automotive Engineering International, but was so bewildered by the fact that they would put this on the nomination list. I may have just abstained, otherwise I would have not voted for this particular piece of engineering. I still wonder how much weight the votes from SAE members actually have in the final vote. By the way, SAE members are not mechanics, they are engineers. ASE is the organization that certifies automotive technicians.

  • Captain Tungsten Captain Tungsten on Apr 14, 2008

    Mr. Niedermeyer: I think the engineers that read this post (and there are at least two of us...) would like a little more explanation of the basis of your position. Expensive? Yeah, I get that, most new technology is expensive when it is launched and is only appealing to early adopters, but over time, if it is worthwhile and the marketers do their job, costs go down and sales go up. But how did you conclude it's overcomplicated. Your picture caption betrays your dim view of the engineering profession, but doesn't add much to our understanding of your opinion. And the GM SUV's are not the only application of the system, their are hundreds of transit buses trundling around our (and Germany's)cities, packing this system, saving oceans of fuel and......wait for it...... buckets of dough for the forward thinking transit authorities that bought them. To AET2009's point, the press release states that the award was selected by "readers and the editors of Automotive Engineering International magazine", which is received by all SAE members who check the Automotive box on their member profile (the other choice is Aerospace). So apparently we all had a chance to vote, but I, like you, missed the memo...

  • Robert Schwartz Robert Schwartz on Apr 14, 2008

    I understand that Edward and other authors on this Blog, think the GM 2 mode system is technically inelegant and too expensive (although that charge may be related to the amortization of development costs, which will be written off if they aren't amortized. My opinion is that it is the General's life raft. They should stop building conventional SUVs which no one is buying anyway. Their inventory will carry them and their dealers for a couple of years in any event. They should build and sell 2MHSUVs exclusively, and they should crow about it. They may be expensive, and they may not sell a lot of them for a while, but it is the only product they have that has any long term viability. If they stick with conventional SUVs they are dead. They might as well do the only thing that gives them an opening.