We recently learned GM will be moving its 2-mode plug-in hybrid drivetrain into a yet-unseen, yet-unnamed Buick compact crossover.
It has been noted that though the standard version of this car will come with a DI 4 cylinder engine capable of more than 30 MPG highway, the plugin version will not.
It will have a direct injection 3.5 L, 6 cylinder engine.
This is the same as the non-plugin 2-mode VUE was to have, though the car was never released. It was engineered for performance, doing 0 to 60 in 7 seconds, developing 270 HP and capable of towing 3500 pounds. The configuration would have achieved about 28 MPG city| 31 MPG highway.
With the addition of the 8 kwh rechargeable lithium-ion pack, GM claims the plugin vehicle can travel up to 10 miles pure EV at "low speeds", and will deliver double the average fuel economy on the standard EPA cycles. This could amount to about 60 MPG.
Of course, it is logical to think if GM used a more efficient 4 cylinder gas engine and lowered the performance specs, even greater fuel efficiency could be achieved. I asked GM spokesperson Brian Corbett why this was not considered.
Here is his response:
Our hybrid strategy has been pretty consistent over the last few years.
Our GM Hybrid system -- the mild hybrid, belt-alternator starter technology -- is our affordable hybrid technology paired with smaller displacement engines. Our 2-mode hybrid system is our more capable, premium hybrid technology. It's goal is to provide significantly higher fuel economy while maintaining the capability of the non-hybrid vehicle's cargo carrying, towing, etc.
That strategy applies to the plug-in as well; maintaining the capability of a 5-passenger crossover while providing significant improvements in fuel economy. It provides E85 capability, which means it likely will be the first flex-fuel hybrid.
I responded to Brian that I thought anyone looking for plug-in would be looking for fuel economy, that they would like the crossover style but wouldn't care as much about a powerful motor. I suspected that those individuals would rather get 20% more fuel efficiency in exchange for 20% less acceleration and power.
That is probably true for plug-in "enthusiasts" or "early adopters." But I think the feeling is we've got try and get the mainstream public interested in plug-in technology in order to make a meaningful different when it comes to reducing emissions and diversifying from petroleum.
So it seems whether or not most people interested in significantly improving their fuel economy are willing downsize to a 4-cylinder is debatable, especially when it comes to though who desire a crossover.
What do you think?