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Update: Video of the live reveal of the Vue plug-in hybrid is available
click above for more high-res images of the Vue hybrids

Saturn showed off the second and third hybrid versions of the Saturn Vue today at the Detroit Auto Show, both of which use GM's two-mode hybrid technology just like the big Tahoe and Yukon hybrids. For the smaller Vue, however, the entire system has been repackaged for a front-wheel-drive application. Where versions 2 and 3 differ is the battery technology. Version 2 comes late this year using the more common nickel-metal hydride type battery packs in combination with the General's direct-injected 3.6L V-6 to give a reported 50% boost in fuel economy. Version 3 comes late 2009 at the earliest and swaps the nickel battery for a lithium-ion unit. Those batteries will come with a plug that allows the owner to get a full grid charge in about 4-5 hours. That's enough juice to run around at city speeds for about 10 miles without starting the engine. If they meet their Job 1 target, GM will likely be the first manufacturer to put a plug-in hybrid into production.

[Source: General Motors]


Saturn Vue Green Line Plug-In Hybrid SUV May Begin Production In 2010

Expected to be First Commercially Available, OEM-produced Plug-in Hybrid

DETROIT - Saturn announced today at the North American International Auto Show that production may begin as soon as 2010 on a plug-in hybrid electric version of the Saturn Vue Green Line, expected to be the first regular production plug-in hybrid electric vehicle. Depending on a consumer's drive cycle, the Vue plug-in hybrid will be the most fuel-efficient vehicle offered by a major automaker.

This Vue Green Line will use a modified version of GM's two-mode hybrid system and plug-in technology, a lithium-ion battery pack, highly efficient electronics and powerful electric motors to achieve significant increases in fuel economy. When the lithium-ion batteries are fully charged, the Vue plug-in hybrid will potentially double the fuel efficiency of any current SUV. After electric-only propulsion depletes the lithium-ion energy storage system to a specified level, the battery is replenished by utilizing the two-mode hybrid system's electric motors and regenerative brake systems.

"We announced late in 2006 that a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle was a top priority, and the fact that we're now announcing production timing to bring the industry's first plug-in to market, while tackling many technology hurdles along the way, demonstrates our commitment to diversifying from petroleum and reducing emissions," said Saturn General Manager Jill Lajdziak.

In early testing, the Vue Green Line plug-in hybrid is capable of electric-only propulsion for more than 10 miles at low speeds. At higher speeds or when conditions demand it, such as brisk acceleration, a combination of engine and electric power or engine power-only drives the vehicle.

The vehicle's lithium-ion batteries can be fully recharged in four to five hours by simply connecting the vehicle to any standard 110V household electrical outlet. The connection port on the vehicle will be integrated into the front fender. By recharging rather than refueling, the Vue Green Line plug-in hybrid reduces petroleum consumption.

A plug-in hybrid-electric vehicle differs from a non-plug-in hybrid-electric vehicle by offering extended electric-only propulsion, additional battery capacity and the ability to be recharged from an external electrical outlet.

The two-mode hybrid system to be introduced on the 2009 Saturn Vue Green Line 2 Mode will be altered for use with plug-in technology. In addition to plug-in capabilities and the modified two-mode hybrid system, the Saturn Vue Green Line hybrid SUV's powertrain will feature two interior permanent magnet motors within the two-mode transmission and GM's 3.6L V-6 VVT gasoline engine with direct injection. The lithium-ion energy storage system will be replenished by utilizing the two-mode hybrid system's electric motors and regenerative braking systems.

The Saturn Vue Green Line plug-in maintains two driving modes - one for city driving, the other for highway driving - and four fixed mechanical gears to maximize efficiency while maintaining performance. In addition, special controls will be utilized to enable higher speeds during electric-only propulsion and maintain electric-only propulsion for longer periods of time.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      Pretty cool stuff, but I would wait for the plug in. everybody who has a short drive to work, or wants to run errands close by should buy one of these. I cannot wait for us to have a little freedom from these greedy oil companies, even if its only ten miles at a time. Good job GM!
        • 7 Years Ago
        Oil companies supply 3.00 dollar gasoline from 90.00 oil. Coke and Pepsi sell 6.00 a gallon soda made from water. Who is greedy
      • 7 Years Ago
      Wouldn't all the three hybrid version confuse the typical consumer? I mean Joe Schmo decides he wants a hybrid and goes down to the dealership only to find out he has to pick between 1 of 3 versions?

      I'm also curious how many people will pony up the extra dough for the 'better' hybrid.
        • 7 Years Ago
        I think many. If hybrids do prove to be here to stay I think it will be like ordering the car with the motor you want.
        "I'd like the waawoo in my Saturn."
        "I'd like the waawoo hybrid Saturn."
      • 7 Years Ago
      Why the big 3.6L V6 engine in a hybrid though? That doesn't seem to make any sense. With the additional power from the battery, a 4 cyl. would be plenty I'd think, and give you better gas mileage. Like the Carmry and Altima hybrids, for example.

      Someone mentioned running the A/C while under battery charge shortening the range. I would think heat would be a much bigger issue. Electric heaters use an awful lot of juice, and people in the northern half of the country are likely to use the heat far more days per year than the A/C.
      • 7 Years Ago
      The plug in would not make sense for me since my daily drives can be up to 300 miles in a day but the regular 2 mode with 50% gain in fuel economy sure sounds dandy to me.
        • 7 Years Ago
        That makes great sense. I think that's GM's idea and will be their strong suit. Different engine configurations will appeal to different consumers.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Where is the vaporware comments? The battery technology is coming along fine and they should be good to go soon. If I could drive 10 miles on little or no gas it would almost get me to work. I am very pleased with this news. Go GM!
        • 7 Years Ago
        Same technology just a little different application. The batteries and the packaging of them is the problem right now. If they can get it working here then I do not see them having problems there.
      • 7 Years Ago
      With all of these plug in cars, people will likley use the full electric charge first to minimize gas use. This will stress the battery backs and cause them to fail sooner. Who will foot the bill for them? You know they will not be cheap in any way. Would you spend 8-12k to repair a battery on your 2-4 year old now worth 10-15k car?
        • 7 Years Ago
        Maybe, maybe not. I'm not an engineer and it doesn't sounds like you are either. How about we just wait and see what the engineers do to resolve this potential problem?

        I'm just as skeptical as the next guy - and I'm not an early-adopter but I suspect GM will stand behind this technology lest they revert back to 1980's GM and disappear from the marketplace.
        • 7 Years Ago
        I would venture to guess that they claim the car can operate as a full electric for ten miles even though it may have the ability to go 20. The car will just be programed at 10 to start the engine. This will prevent the deep drawing on the batteries that you speak of.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Stop hating.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Quoted from Christine & Scott Gable on about.com:

        "In short, yes, it is expensive to replace hybrid batteries—it can cost in the neighborhood of $3,000 for a full hybrid battery replacement. But on the other hand, hybrid batteries have proven themselves to be extremely reliable. And as long as they are not abused and the vehicle charging control system operates effectively, they can be--not unrealistically—expected to last for nearly the life of the vehicle.

        Manufacturers are providing generous battery warranties (generally about 8-10 years and 80,000 to 100,000 miles), but as with most warranted components, they are designed to last well beyond the coverage period. It would not be unreasonable to expect the life of a battery pack to exceed 150,000 miles."

        GM is warranting these batteries for 8 years or 100,000 miles. I'd say sufficient.
        • 7 Years Ago
        I doubt that the ten mile estimate accounts for stop and go, A/C us and hills so people Will Use GAS. Who knows though replacing batteries may be cheaper than filling up with petroleum in the future. GM or Toyota or Ford or Hyundai the consumers are the winners of this Race.
      • 7 Years Ago
      "If they meet their Job 1 target, GM will likely be the first manufacturer to put a plug-in hybrid into production."

      WOW! Who would have guessed it?
      • 7 Years Ago
      Welp, I know what my next car is.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Very cool. 10 miles doesn't sound like much, but in the real world that would cover a LOT of my trips, which tend to be short distance errands, shopping, the vet, going to dinner nearby, etc.
      • 7 Years Ago
      GM is still just getting rolling and this is a great piece to ad to the mix. The best performance cars, the best green cars, and everything in between.
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