GM to return to two-mode hybrid vehicles in third-quarter of 2011

2010 Buick LaCrosse

According to Larry Nitz, General Motors executive director of hybrid and electric powertrain engineering, the Detroit automaker plans to bring back mild hybrids as early as next year. GM got rid of mild hybrids after 2009 when it closed Saturn, leaving it with just one vehicle with the technology, the Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid.

Nitz said that a more powerful system will be available in the third quarter of 2011 on at least one mid-sized sedan in North America and one in China. While Nitz declined to name specific vehicles, he said that the first-generation mild hybrid system was available in the Buick LaCrosse in China.

He said that GM also intends to make some of its own electric motors for hybrids instead of purchasing them from suppliers. Nitz said that the first GM-made electric motors will be manufactured at its White Marsh powertrain plant near Baltimore. The in-house built electric motors will be used on GM’s next-generation Two-Mode hybrid technology, that will debut on future pickups and SUVs.

A mild hybrid system, unlike a full hybrid system, cannot propel a vehicle on electric power alone. Instead, it acts like stop/start system that shuts off the gasoline engine when the car stops and uses the batteries to restart the engine when the accelerator is depressed.

– By: Omar Rana

Source: AutoWeek