Opel Reopens Its Diesel-Hybrid File

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
opel reopens its diesel hybrid file

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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  • T2 T2 on Jan 08, 2010

    +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.

  • Blowfish Blowfish on Jan 08, 2010

    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?

  • Tassos ask me if I care.
  • ToolGuy • Nice vehicle, reasonable price, good writeup. I like your ALL CAPS. 🙂"my mid-trim EX tester is saddled with dummy buttons for a function that’s not there"• If you press the Dummy button, does a narcissist show up spouting grandiose comments? Lol.
  • MaintenanceCosts These are everywhere around here. I'm not sure the extra power over a CR-V hybrid is worth the fragile interior materials and the Kia dealership experience.
  • MaintenanceCosts It's such a shame about the unusable ergonomics. I kind of like the looks of this Camaro and by all accounts it's the best-driving of the current generation of ponycars. A manual 2SS would be a really fun toy if only I could see out of it enough to drive safely.
  • ToolGuy Gut feel: It won't sell all that well as a new vehicle, but will be wildly popular in the used market 12.5 years from now.(See FJ Cruiser)