By on July 23, 2008

Turn on, plug in, and drop out.When it comes to alt power, The General's ADD ways continue. In addition to its BAS "mild" hybrids, two-mode hybrids and Volt plug-in hybrid, GM is working on yet another Hail Mary: a plug-in version of the two-mode system. The result will be a single mode, the Saturn Vue plug-in. Yes folks, just in case the two-mode system isn't complicated enough, GM is adding plug-in capabilities. GM's Fastlane blog worries that we may all be too excited about the eventual release of the Volt,. They want to remind us that the plug-in Vue is undergoing testing in Michigan and Arizona. The program started with NiMh cells, but has switched to more modern Li-Ion batteries, which have now undergone thermal management testing. Apparently, they're now "fully operational and undergoing refinement." Even though the regular two-mode Vue Hybrid is set to go on sale this year, GM is hyping the plug-in version. Based on technology that's undergone more tjhan 800k miles of dynamometer testing, GM expects the PHEV Vue to "set the standard for its combination of fuel economy and performance." For an SUV. Which is to say, not at all. Shouldn't these engineers be working on the Volt, considering that its development is "pushing the time envelope," according to Rick Wagoner? 

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17 Comments on “GM’s Other Complicated, Expensive PHEV...”


  • avatar

    I thought the Vue Plug-In uses the same tech as the Volt, or close to it.

  • avatar
    monkeyboy

    I don’t think it would make sense at all. There are more than enough qualified engineers from the PHEV truck and SUV available for the Volt.

    Don’t proliferate the old tenets of poor management.

    Besides, the “9 Pregnant Women” philosophy is supposedly on it’s way out.

    Please let it die…

  • avatar
    SherbornSean

    Monkey, I have no idea what you are writing.

    Yeah, Ed has a point. In general, GM needs to get used to the fact that they can’t continue to make a variety of bets an many different platforms, models and technologies. Ford actually is way ahead of them on this, out of necessity.

    Chrysler on the other hand has $0 for any bets.

  • avatar
    monkeyboy

    Wow. The point is that you can’t speed it to production by simply throwing more people at it. The key is throwing the ‘right‘ people at it.

    That’s already done.

    Back away and let them work unencumbered.

  • avatar
    Raskolnikov

    I’m excited to see how the excellent 2 mode hybrid performs in the VUE. I suspect it will blow the “mild” BAS out of the water, along with the Escape Hybrid.

  • avatar
    cjdumm

    GM’s harebrained, scattershot approach (badge engineering, market segment duplication, cannibalization) is a continuing trainwreck.

    It comes from the management school that teaches that if one man can dig a 3′ by 3′ by 3′ hole in one hour, five thousand men could dig the same hole in a fraction of a second.

    Ineconomies of scale, writ large.

  • avatar
    rob

    Maybe instead of adding thousands of dollars of PHEV tech, they should work on making the Vue weigh a bit less (base FWD 4 cylinder model weighs ~3800 lbs), try to get the Cd a bit lower, put in taller gears, etc.

    It seems amazing that car companies (not just GM) don’t implement simple fuel saving measures. For example: Cobalt XFE, or the Civic HX (older generations). These vehicles probably drive just like any other model, but offer significant mileage gains.

    Full disclosure: I own a ’98 Civic HX. The car has a slightly different engine from other civics of that year, 14″ aluminum wheels, low resistance tires (at least originally), tall gearing, and tips the scales at 2400 lbs. I have never gotten below 30 mpg (despite my best attempts), consistently get around 35 mpg in mixed Long Island driving, and get 40+ on long highway trips. The car feels and drives like a normal car.

    Perhaps a better example would be the last generation civic HX, which supposedly offers the same mileage as my HX, but offers better (five star) crash test ratings and side airbags.

    I find it frustrating that simple solutions are not being further exploited to make a modern small vehicle that can match or beat the fuel economy of a ten year old, hooned to death, 100,000 mile beater? Oh, and doesn’t look weird (Yaris, Fit, Civic).

  • avatar
    indi500fan

    “Shouldn’t these engineers be working on the Volt”

    Ed, you apparently haven’t worked in this industry. Often less people means more progress.
    At GM, programs are rarely understaffed.
    Overmanaged perhaps, but rarely understaffed.

  • avatar
    Captain Tungsten

    @indi500fan. That was true in 1990. It is categorically NOT true today.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    Ed Niedermeyer: “Shouldn’t these engineers be working on the Volt, considering that its development is “pushing the time envelope,” according to Rick Wagoner?”

    No. One way or another, this $16K-overpriced thing will sell about as well as the longer-EV-legged but $20K-overpriced Volt. Which is to say, nearly not at all. At least it will probably get here sooner.

    Oh, and the “V6 power” isn’t going to help. Probably too late to get GM to fix that.

    Rob,

    Yep. A diet and exercise are what’s indicated, not a new wardrobe and accessories.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    By the way, is that a shot of the factory or what? It rather looks like 4 Vues lined up in a dealer’s service bays.

  • avatar
    monkeyboy

    i thik that a V6 is EXACTLY what these anemic Hybrids need. It befuddles me to think that just because you’re in a flyweight slot car, you should be content with using and hour glass to measure 0 – 60!

    Most here haven’t had the opportunity to drive a Two Mode Hybrid. I did. I wnated to know the reasons they’re getting hammered here.

    Practically seamless performance. Better fuel economy and real power. Trans knew where it was and what gear it wanted every shift, up or down. Mash it and it hauls; for a heavy SUV.

    Go drive one for yourselves.

  • avatar
    netrun

    Just wanted to chime in on the “extensive testing” GM has done on their system.

    800k miles of testing is four engine durability tests. If you get lucky, you can run one engine back-to-back so you’d only need a total of two engines. It should take you about three months, tops.

    And, since it’s a “totally new technology” you can write the test spec however you like and decide on what your acceptable criteria are after the test has completed.

    If anyone thinks this has never happened before, just look around at all the crap GM has been selling all these years and you’ll see plenty of examples.

  • avatar
    Raskolnikov

    People hammer the 2 mode out of ignorance. If they were to drive a 2 mode -equipped vehicle (transit bus or Yukhoe) their tone would change.
    The system is amazing – pricing is not.

    @netrun–the system has been in use since 2003 in buses then scaled down for light vehicles, but its essentially the same. Almost 100 million service miles have been accumulated for total bus fleet…so they know what’s going on. The challenge is stuffing it into a package as small as the VUE and controlling the thermal episodes.

  • avatar
    Cavendel

    netrun Says:
    800k miles of testing is four engine durability tests. If you get lucky, you can run one engine back-to-back so you’d only need a total of two engines. It should take you about three months, tops.

    How does that math work? Wouldn’t this take more like 9 or 10 months with two engines?

  • avatar
    Busbodger

    Saw a new Vue (gas only) in traffic yesterday. MUCH nicer than it’s earlier designs. I’d buy it on looks. Have no idea what is under the hood or what it weighs. I agree 3800 lbs is too heavy for a CUV.

    Ideal weight for a CUV would be about 3200 lbs.

  • avatar
    davey49

    They will sell every plug in and two mode VUE they can possibly make. The question is; How many can they make?

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