GM's director of Hybrid Powertrain Engineering Larry Nitz has apparently taken to calling the Saturn VUE 2-Mode plug-in hybrid the "other" GM plug-in due to all the attention the Chevy Volt gets.

At the Plug-in 2008 conference he gave an update on the vehicle and has written about it on GM's FastLane blog.

He mentioned that there are currently 11 plug-in VUEs undergoing testing on the Milford proving grounds, and they brought one to show off at the aforementioned conference in San Jose, California.

The vehicles are based on the 2-mode hybrid front wheel drivetrain that is soon to make its appearance in the 2-mode (non plugin) VUE going into production later this year.

The plug-in prototypes are using extensively tested lithium-ion packs and Nitz notes plug-in charge integration is fully operational.

The 2-mode VUE is slated for production in 2010, and is a few months or more ahead of the Volt since the hybrid system is going into a vehicle that already exists.

It is expected that the plug-in VUE could cover up to 10 miles of electric driving range, but in practice usually never will.  The is because the car is not an E-REV, the battery is integrated into the 2-mode hybrid system, and controllers will switch the vehicle between pure EV (both low and high speed) and ICE power depending on the driving needs of the moment ( see prior post ).

In the end, Mr. Nitz noted the car has "the promise of potentially doubling the fuel efficiency of any current SUV." While GM has not recently given exact figures, early reports suggest 70 mpg is possible.

Source ( FastLane Blog )