Let's try this again, shall we? General Motors has announced that it will jump back into the mild hybrid game by the third quarter of 2011. Larry Nitz, the company's director of hybrid and electric powertrain engineering, made the announcement at a seminar in Traverse City, Michigan, though he declined to comment on exactly which models would get the fuel-saving tech next year. Nitz did say that at least one American model and one Chinese model would be a mild hybrid by the end of 2011, which leads us to believe that the tech will work its way into the Buick lineup.
GM walked away from mild hybrids after Saturn was sent to the company's scrap heap. At the time, both the Chevrolet Malibu and the Saturn Vue wore the tech, but with the Vue out of the picture, the company couldn't justify the cost of investing in the drivetrains. Unlike a full hybrid, mild-hybrid vehicles can't cruise along on just electric power. Instead, the system allows the gasoline engine to shut off when the vehicle is stopped. The electric motor then starts the engine again when the accelerator pedal is depressed.
If we were guessing, we'd say that GM will debut the rebirth of the tech on the Buick LaCrosse – a model that has enjoyed equal success in China and has the potential to revitalize the brand in the U.S.