EDTA Conference: The East Coast GM plug-in hybrid announcement

The media spotlight was on GM Chairman Rick Wagoner and the big announcement yesterday at the Los Angeles Auto Show that GM would offer a plug-in hybrid sometime in the next few years. Over at the EDTA Conference, where such an announcement would have been right at home, the news was delivered to attendees Wednesday afternoon by Pete Savagian, engineering director of GM hybrid powertrains. When Savagian mentioned the announcement, people clapped and cheered. The news seemed to validate a lot of what was going on at the EDTA show, and fit well with Savagian's presentation on GM's hybrid line-up. That line-up looks like this:
That PHEV Vue will be a two-mode front wheel drive vehicle that Savagian said would deliver at least a 45 percent improvement in fuel economy and can go about ten miles on electric power alone in certain driving conditions. "There are a whole lot of hurdles to get this car to production," he said.

The upcoming Tahoe and Escalade group is also posing a challenge to GM, Savagian said. Engineers are working to put electric motors into these large truck and SUV vehicles, but they feel they cannot "sacrifice what this segment represents," he said. The challenge – achieved – was to put all of the hybrid components into a space the size of the transmission. Engineers came up with a two-electric motor system that will be on display at NAIAS in January. This system can move the vehicle on electric power alone at low speeds, and will not reduce performance when the engine is fully engaged.

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