By on January 7, 2010

Not very Precept-ive... (

Opel already has big plans for its restructuring, despite the minor issue of being short a few billion dollars. According to an interview with Opel boss Nick Reilly in the print edition of Auto Motor und Sport, only a billion Euros of the €3.3b Opel turnaround plan is going to be spent on restructuring. The rest will be spent on new products like a city car, a “mini offroader,” and new high-tech drivetrains. According to Autocar, one of those high-tech drivetrain options is a a pairing that several firms including VW and Peugeot-Citroen already looked into but have yet to bring to market out of concern for the high cost: the diesel-electric hybrid. GM Europe’s Advanced Powertrain Chief Engineer Maurizio Cisternino explains “if you want the best fuel consumption, you have to go with the diesel-electric hybrid.” But there’s a tiny problem: Cisternino wants to get diesel-hybrid prices down to a €1,000 premium over gas-electric hybrids, a goal Cisternino admits “does not work at the moment.” Now if only GM had some government investment in the technology…

Ironically, the US government did invest over a billion dollars into GM’s diesel-electric hybrid development some ten years ago, through the Project For A New Generation of Vehicles. The brief of the Clinton-era project was to create an 80 MPG car for American families at a price they could afford. Accordingly, GM, Ford and Chrysler each built prototypes using a diesel-electric powertrain. Unfortunately, the technoogy was so expensive, taxpayers got only a single prototype from each company for their billion dollar investment. And the money doesn’t appear to have brought GM any closer to making the diesel-hybrid promise a reality. So now GM is sinking more government-sourced cash into the dream of diesel-electric, developing a new 1.6 liter turbodiesel four-banger as well as a “special unit dedicated to diesel hybridization.” Of course for any of this to approach production-readiness, the European governments are going to have to underwrite Opel’s restructuring deal. Considering the American taxpayers have already paid their end of the diesel-electric hybrid development pricetag, this seems like the fair way to go.

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17 Comments on “Opel Reopens Its Diesel-Hybrid File...”

  • avatar

    That Opel sure looks rather French to me for some reason.

  • avatar

    Do I have this right? GM doesn’t think that a car with a $1,400 (1000 euro) premium over a gas electric hybrid won’t sell, but a car with a $10k to 20k premium will?

    • 0 avatar

      I think you misread the quote.  They want the premium to be 1000 Euros, but they aren’t getting it to that price yet.  They didn’t say a car with a 1000 Euro premium wouldn’t sell.

    • 0 avatar

      How much more will this cost compared to a standard gas model? Even if it’s $10,000 more, it will be a bargain compared to the Volt. This is what should have been GM’s plan from the start. While trying at the same time to perfect the “not ready for primetime” all-electric technology.

  • avatar

    I am guessing the battery technology of the Clinton era was much more expensive than it is today.  That was probably the biggest price tag on all of this.

  • avatar

    Car in the pic is the GM PNGV prototype..
    Of course, GM maybe still has some access to Allison’s hybrid gearboxes.. and by hybrid, they probably talk about a rather mild application.. nothing like the Volt.

  • avatar

    I have trouble seeing this work.
    One of the benefits to a hybrid powertrain is that it can abstract the engine or motors from the wheels, allowing the most efficient use of either.  Merely having a hybrid-electric powertrain allows a gasoline engine to be run in a more efficient state, thus negating some of diesel’s efficiency advantages.  The other advantage, idle-stop, is a real problem for diesel.
    Then you add the turbocharger, high-pressure injectors, emissions control system, stronger and heavier block and heads, again all for declining returns versus a gasoline-hybrid.  I could see this working if we’re talking about a naturally-aspirated diesel, but then you’ve got a car that’s utterly gutless.  It’d also work if we’re talking a BAS or IMA-style mild hybrid, but even then it’s still in the “declining returns” category.
    This seems like internet forum wanking material.  Will it come as a stick-shift, rear-drive wagon, too?

  • avatar

    Can someone please enlighten me..

    This post was made yesterday on autoblog.. with obvious reference to the Opelized Volt, FINE.

    But Id like to know what is going on with HYBRID DEISEL?!

    GM cant (scratch that.. WONT) even sell DEISEL cars in the U.S (all the while stuffing out little pubescent minds with happy VOLT images — NOT).

    Im so aggravated..

    Why dont they just sell the DEISEL cars (in the U.S)… and have this 1 trick pony (VOLT) on the side.. whats the point of them both?
    Then again.. (rereading) there isnt any mention of the U.S involved..
    Lump of crap I say..

  • avatar

    The Prius has shown that hybrids can easily command about a $5000 premium if packaged and marketed as unique models.
    Toyota has shown them all the way.  Honda excepted (with its poorly executed re-Insight), why hasn’t anyone gotten it yet?

    • 0 avatar

      The “Prius Premium” will rapidly decline, if and when competent competitors enter the marketplace; for the time-being, Toyota is enjoying the benefits of being the first-mover.

  • avatar

    I have long wondered why there weren’t any Diesel hybrids, since the concept promises maximum fuel savings. And what’s up with those wacky rear skirts? Second ones I’ve seen this week. Also on the new Brabus V12 E Benz. A German trend dujour?

  • avatar

    Back in August, tech/science blog ran a story on a diesel-electric Honda Insight. Commenter “redelm” posted the following about why diesel hybrids aren’t quite the silver bullet.
    “The main reason gasoline hybrids get better mileage than direct-coupled engines is that the gasoline engine is not forced to operate at inefficient points on its’ BSFC map (near closed throttle). The engine only runs when needed, and then it runs near its’ BEP (Best efficiency point), or occasionally at maximum power which also has decent efficiency. It is not forced to idle and off-idle conditions where the pumping losses are horrible and efficiency [sucks] (5x fuel for same marginal power).

    Diesel engines have entirely different BSFC maps, and do not suffer the same pumping losses (vacuum across throttle plate). Their drop off at idle is _much_ lower than for gasoline engines, so they’re great in city-wide European traffic jams. Diesel fuel also is ~15% denser (more heat per gallon) and the higher compression ratio is about 5% more theoretically efficient.
    But a diesel hybrid does not have much to gain by hybridization. The BSFC map is much flatter, and the engine restarting power & wear is considerably higher.”

    • 0 avatar

      Also, don’t forget, that to have a competent and long-lived Diesel, the specific weight of the engine is greater than for an Otto engine.  (That is of course, unless GM thinks they can do a light-duty Diesel because they retired the last engine engineer who remembered GM’s gas-to-diesel debacle of the 80’s…)

  • avatar

    +1  to psarhjinian and Bob12

    Could add that the diesel torque charcteristic does not match to a FIXED magnetic field generator but the more constant torque of the gasoline engine does. Therefore a lot easier to optimise the generator size and cost with that of the engine.

  • avatar

    and the engine restarting power & wear is considerably higher.”
    U need more juice/ electricity to start a diesel engine. Or like the Marine dsl engine, u deactivated the valve so there is no compression in the engine, spin it up to speed then close the valve using kinetic energy stored in a heavy fly wheel  to get the dsl engine to start.
    Then u need a heavier fly wheel, modern day computer management should be able to do all that very simply.
    But turning a dsl on/off as if u play with a toy light switch is it Kosher?

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