GM starts production of new hybrid engine
Two-mode system will go in SUVs
October 29, 2007
By JUSTIN HYDE
FREE PRESS WASHINGTON STAFF
WHITE MARSH, Md. -- General Motors Corp. on Monday launched production of its two-mode hybrid transmissions, its key effort to compete against Toyota Motor Co.’s hybrid juggernaut.
GM spent $118 million upgrading its Baltimore Transmission Plant to build the two-mode systems that will be installed in the 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon hybrid sport utility vehicles. Those vehicles will hit dealerships over the next few weeks.
GM says the system will produce a 50% improvement in city fuel economy and a 10% improvement in highway efficiency, with a 30% boost overall.
Federal tests rate the 2008 Tahoe at 21 miles per gallon in the city and 22 m.p.g. on the highway. John Buttermore, vice president of global manufacturing for GM Powertrain, said the hybrid Tahoe would carry eight people and sport a 332-horsepower engine, while offering the same city fuel economy as a four-cylinder Toyota Camry.
Next year, GM will offer the system in the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups, as well as the Cadillac Escalade. The two-mode design was developed with Daimler AG, Chrysler LLC and BMW, with variants for front and rear-wheel drive vehicles.
The system is GM's response to Toyota's growing hybrid empire, and was designed to offer more benefits in larger vehicles, such as GM's full-size pickups and SUVs. But Toyota's success with the Prius has given it a sizable head start; it sold more hybrids in September than GM has built in total.