• Feb 8th 2011 at 1:51AM
  • 57
2012 Buick Regal eAssist – Click above for high-res image gallery

When General Motors debuted the 2012 Buick LaCrosse with eAssist technology at the Los Angeles Auto Show last year, the automaker told us that this new fuel-saving feature would quickly spread across many other models in its portfolio. Now, GM has taken the wraps off of the eAssist-equipped 2012 Buick Regal, which makes its official public debut at the Chicago Auto Show this week.

Most significantly, the addition of eAssist to the Regal's 2.4-liter inline-four powertrain means that the sedan is now capable of achieving 26 miles per gallon in the city and 37 mpg on the highway. Like the LaCrosse, the Regal eAssist uses a small, 15-horsepower electric motor to give assistance during acceleration, and when combined with things like regenerative braking and automatic start/stop, it means a substantial increase in fuel economy. It's not exactly Ford Fusion Hybrid impressive, but still quite good when you consider that the standard Regal only musters up 19/30 mpg ratings.

Unlike the larger LaCrosse, eAssist will not be the base powertrain for 2012 Regals. Buick has positioned the Regal eAssist to be part of larger family, which includes the Regal Turbo and upcoming GS. Model-specific changes over the base Regal include things like lightweight 17-inch alloy wheels (smaller than the standard Regal's 18-inch set), an eco mode for the air conditioning system, an eco gauge on the instrument panel and a powerflow readout in the seven-inch infotainment screen.

We'll be seeing the 2012 Regal eAssist live in Chicago this week, so stay tuned for more information. In the meantime, follow the jump to read GM's official press release, and see the new electrified Regal for yourself in the high-res gallery below.

2012 Buick Regal eAssist
  • 2012 Buick Regal eAssist
  • 2012 Buick Regal eAssist

  • 2012 Buick Regal eAssist
  • 2012 Buick Regal eAssist

  • 2012 Buick Regal eAssist
  • 2012 Buick Regal eAssist

  • 2012 Buick Regal eAssist
  • 2012 Buick Regal eAssist

  • 2012 Buick Regal eAssist
  • 2012 Buick Regal eAssist

  • 2012 Buick Regal eAssist
  • 2012 Buick Regal eAssist

[Source: General Motors]
Show full PR text
2012 Regal to Offer New eAssist™ Fuel-Saving Technology

* eAssist "light electrification" system improves fuel economy 25 percent
* Estimated 26 mpg city / 37 mpg highway (pending EPA certification)
* On sale this fall

CHICAGO – Buick announced the 2012 Regal with eAssist™ fuel-saving technology, which improves overall fuel economy by 25 percent over the 2011 four-cylinder/six-speed powertrain. Estimated fuel economy is 26 mpg city and 37 mpg on the highway (pending EPA certification).

Regal with eAssist joins the 2012 LaCrosse as the second Buick to feature the efficiency-enhancing technology. The system uses a state-of-the-art lithium-ion battery system, electric induction motor-generator and regenerative braking capability to improve fuel economy. Its fuel economy tops competitors such as the Acura TSX, rated at 22 mpg city and 31 mpg highway. Regal's estimated 37 mpg on the highway is 20 percent greater and the TSX doesn't offer a six-speed automatic transmission, which is standard on the Buick.

"Buick's eAssist technology means customers don't have to trade a premium driving experience for efficiency," said Tony DiSalle, vice president of Buick marketing. "We believe Regal and LaCrosse with eAssist provide more logical and affordable choices, compared to other hybrid midsize and full-size luxury sedans."

Regal with eAssist goes on sale this fall. It joins an expanding lineup that also includes 2.4L and 2.0L Turbo (with manual transmission) models, as well as the upcoming Regal GS. Regal with eAssist offers the range of luxury and convenience packages offered in the other models, along with unique features that include:

* Lightweight 17-inch alloy wheels and tires with lower rolling resistance
* A driver-selectable, fuel economy-optimizing mode for the air conditioning system, which enables more frequent and longer-duration engine stop periods
* An ECO gauge on the instrument panel that continuously responds to driving behavior, enabling the driver to drive with greater efficiency
* A powerflow readout in the 7-inch infotainment screen, which shows the flow of energy through the electric assist system, such as battery charging from regeneration and electric power directed to the engine.

eAssist details

Mated to Regal's 2.4L Ecotec direct injection four-cylinder engine and next-generation six-speed automatic transmission, the eAssist system uses power stored in the battery to provide needed electrical boost in various driving scenarios, optimizing engine and transmission operation. An advanced 115V lithium-ion battery and latest-generation 15-kW induction motor-generator unit help increase fuel economy through:

* Regenerative braking, which provides up to 15 kW of electricity to charge the battery
* Providing up to 11 kW (15 hp) of electric power assistance during acceleration
* Automatic engine shut-off when the vehicle is stopped
* Aggressive fuel cut-off during deceleration down to zero vehicle speed, enabled by the torque smoothing provided by the induction motor-generator unit
* Intelligent charge/discharge of the high-voltage battery.

"The capability to deliver electric boost to the powertrain system during heavy acceleration and grade driving enables the engine and transmission to operate more efficiently," said Steve Poulos, global chief engineer of the eAssist system. "Full fuel shutoff at stops and during deceleration complements electric boost and regenerative braking with additional fuel savings."

Regal with eAssist technology also features improved underbody aerodynamics and tires optimized for performance and fuel economy. It also features a hill-assist system that captures brake pressure to help the driver more comfortably accelerate from a stop on a moderate or steep grade. It does this by greatly reducing the tendency of the vehicle to roll backward with the engine in shut-down mode.

The eAssist system's 115V air-cooled lithium-ion battery bolsters the 2.4L Ecotec four-cylinder engine with approximately 11 kW (15 hp) of electric power assist during heavy acceleration and 15 kW of regenerative braking power. The system also enables the Ecotec engine to shut down fuel delivery in certain deceleration conditions, which saves additional fuel. While in fuel shut-off mode, the induction motor-generator unit continues spinning along with the engine to provide immediate and smooth take-off power when the driver presses on the accelerator. Then, as the vehicle comes to a stop, the induction motor-generator unit spins the engine, bringing it to a smooth stop – properly positioned for a smooth restart.

"The battery system is designed to provide power assistance to the internal combustion engine, rather than store energy for all-electric propulsion," said Poulos. "It's really an extension of the conventional internal combustion engine, not a replacement for it."

The eAssist power pack contains the lithium-ion battery pack, the integrated power inverter and 12V power supply. It is located in a compartment between the rear seat and trunk; and it is surprisingly compact and lightweight, weighing only about 65 pounds (29 kg). Trunk space is slightly reduced when compared with 2011 models with the four-cylinder/six-speed powertrain, but still offers 11.1 cubic feet (314 liters) of storage. A quiet electric fan cools the power pack, drawing air from a vent located in the package tray, behind the rear seat.

The eAssist system's electric induction motor-generator is mounted to the engine in place of the alternator to provide both motor assist and electric-generating functions through a unique engine belt-drive system. The induction motor-generator is a high-performance, compact induction motor that is liquid-cooled for increased performance and efficiency.

Next-generation six-speed

The eAssist system works with Regal's direct injected 2.4L Ecotec four-cylinder and next-generation six-speed automatic powertrain combination. In the Regal with eAssist, the engine is rated at 182 horsepower (136 kW) and the next-generation Hydra-Matic 6T40 takes transmission technology to the next level with features designed to enhance powertrain efficiency.

Significant internal transmission changes to clutch controls and hardware provide reduced spin losses while improving shift response and time. The added electric power provided by the eAssist system allows for higher gearing to improve steady state efficiency without impacting acceleration performance or driveability. The system's ability to provide some electric assistance at cruising speeds allows the driver to accelerate lightly or ascend mild grades without the transmission downshifting.

An auxiliary, electric-driven transmission oil pump is added to the 6T40, which keeps the transmission primed and the fluid flowing when the engine shuts down at a stop. That keeps the transmission ready to perform when the driver accelerates, for a seamless, uncompromised driving experience.

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      I'd love to see what this could do to the Corvette, it already gets great mpg for a 400hp sports car this should turn it into a gas sipping dynamo!
      • 4 Years Ago
      I like how this is resented by Toyota
        • 4 Years Ago
        It's called "hush money".
        • 4 Years Ago
        Presented not Resented
      • 4 Years Ago
      I hope, this one will make it to Europe. And damn GM, take a look *into* the Buick and into the Opel version. Then you might understand, why Opel has so much problems selling...
      • 4 Years Ago
      I want to see this tech used for performance purposes.

      And for the the love of god buick get those ridiculous chrome globs off the GS hood. Love the car.. hate the silly use of chrome.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The key, which isn't listed in this story, isn't that the e-assist system adds 15 horsepower, but that it adds 78 lb-ft of torque at launch.

      When you add that to the 172 lb-ft of torque available from the 4cyl engine, you end up with a solid 250 ft-lb off the line, only 8 lb-ft shy of the rating of the turbo (non-gs) Regal.

      Should make for a car that's both fun to drive and economical.

      Now they just need to add it to the Cruze/Verano for a truly entertaining package, or at least to the Equinox/Terrain 4cyls for a bearable package.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I don't think you'll see it on the Cruze with the Volt out there.

        The Equinox/Terrain is a lead pipe cinch.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Wonder how much it weighs and how much it will end up adding to the bottom line . . .
        • 4 Years Ago
        My guess is that the turbo and the eAssist model with both be $30k. It would make perfect sense- the 2.4L car is the entry level and then you can chose to upgrade to a more powerful turbo or a more efficient eAssist model. This way there really isnt a price penalty relative to the turbo. They dont want to make this standard because that would make this car too similar to the 2012 Lacrosse which will start at $30k and have this standard.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Without a doubt, pricing will make or break this option.... and actually, I kind of think it shouldn't be an option at all. An e-Assisted module should be put into every Regal engine offered and the entire Buick brand should go hybrid to cement its tech credentials and break from its stodgy image.

      I also have to say that GM is not doing enough to publicize the "eAssist" brand. Toyota obviously has tons of commercials for its Hybrid Synergy Drive. Ford seems to be going nuts with its "EcoBoost" technology and back in the day Honda touted its VTEC. The only place that I have seen anything about the "eAssist" is on internet blogs.
        • 4 Years Ago
        They did say that the LaCrosse with eAssist will be priced starting around $30K, so I can only imagine this would be cheaper. Maybe somewhere in the $26-30K range?
        • 4 Years Ago
        I suspect, when the last shoe drops (Verano, NY?), Buick will trumpet that *ALL* of their new cars have eAssist available.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Same Opel Insignia
      • 4 Years Ago
      These are really good figures for such a small change.

      How much does this add to the price? The trunk space loss is unfortunate but not too substantial.
        • 4 Years Ago
        It seems to be a much better system than the old Malibu/Aura mild-hybrid, although I guess we haven't seen the price tag yet. Personally I don't particularly like the new Buick styling, they've catered it too much to Chinese tastes for me, but I understand why some people like it. Assuming it's a ~$2-3k price premium, I think this will sell.

        As to "rare earths," we actually have plenty of reserves in this country, but stopped producing them because China could do it for 1/10th of the labor cost, not to mention the relative laxness of their environmental regulations. If they continue in their shananigans, I expect to see production in Utah start back up.

        Induction motors are possible, but still a bit bulky for automotive applications, I think. I seem to recall an article saying that Toyota was putting a lot of resources into trying to make them suitable for cars, because of the rare-earth issue.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Reading the press release, this tech is really impressive.

        They thought of a lot of things, with it holding your car on a hill and actually driving the engine during fuel cutoff (coast down) so that the car comes to a smooth stop.

        All of it sounds like a huge win, without having to redesign the whole car. Very impressive, this is the kind of thing that will make high mpg vehicles palatable for non-greenies.

        I hope it works as well as it sounds. And unfortunately, this motor/generator certainly uses rare earth magnets, I hope there aren't supply problems with China's new hoarding of their supply of minerals.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Electric motors can be made entirely without rare earths, in fact they can be made entirely without magnets of any kind.

        Look up induction motors on the googler. Tesla motors is using one. There are plenty of heavy applications that are using them too ( electric rail cars for example )
        • 4 Years Ago
        I agree that this is what will make mileage acceptable - minimal sacrifice in the utility of the car (slightly less trunk space), slight price increase, but much improved mileage. It's a good, smart balance.

        BTW, "rare" is relative - those earths aren't like diamond or gold. Which aren't that rare, either. It's just not super common. I think Oz has lots of this stuff, but isn't really mining it.

        • 4 Years Ago
        In the press release it states that the motor is in fact an induction type motor/generator. The main traction motor in the Volt is also an induction motor. I think the main drawback of these types of motors is that they have more complex control systems and a slight weight penalty wrt pm ac motors but cost less to manufacture.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Quite good mileage for a midsizer.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Great fuel economy numbers and an attractive package, it should be a good seller.

      Naysayers may harp on performance numbers, but target customers won't care with such stellar MPG. The chassis has already proven to be a well balanced and I imagine the additional hardware won't effect its driving dynamics much.

        • 4 Years Ago
        So how many Saturn Aura's did GM sell with the mild hybrid system. Bigger question, how many did GM sell to retail customers?
      • 4 Years Ago
      This is just stupid! It is the same car as it ever was but now it has a new name and costs twice as much!!! eAssist???? OMG!!!! They just keep selling us same bs over and over again! Did you now that the engines from the '90s and modern day ones have no major differences? Nothing major has changed but prices keep getting higher!! And computer controlled fuel injection actually makes your car consume more fuel! And God be with you if this high tech piece of electronics brakes down and it will! People should really learn more about alternative fuel sources such as Tesla generator and HHO technology! There are many sites on the internet where you can learn about this technologies (http://www.hhomaster.com etc.) and this way you can really get some benefits, not another high tech piece of junk that has a new name and costs an arm and a leg!
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