GM CEO Fritz Henderson may not believe in re-badging Pontiacs for other GM brands, but it looks like at least one Saturn model will live on. The mid-size Vue crossover will become a Buick in 2011, and a plug-in hybrid will be part of the program. The Two-mode hybrid system that was originally scheduled to launch in the Vue last November will be installed in the Buick-badged version along with an 8 kWh lithium ion battery pack. The pack will use the same LG Chem cells going into the Volt and, as originally planned, the PHEV will be paired with the direct injected 3.6-liter V6.
According to GM, testing so far shows that the PHEV can run over 10 miles batteries alone at low speeds. Since this is a conversion-type plug-in essentially retaining the standard two-mode hybrid system, it isn't capable of running on electricity at any speed (like the Volt). Unlike any other current hybrid, the PHEV will be flex-fuel capable. Badging the PHEV as a Buick makes sense since it sells at a higher price point than the Saturn and it will also likely be available in China. GM expects this to be the first commercially-available PHEV SUV, beating Ford's first offering which is due in 2012.
GM spokesman Brian Corbett tells ABG there won't be a non-plug hybrid version of the Buick "Vue" available. The new Buick will be available with the same direct injected 2.4-liter four and 3.0-liter V6 found in the new Equinox.