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Sat, Aug 26, 2006 - Page 10 News List

GM showcases its new `dual hybrid' technology

SAVE THE SUV General Motors Corp says the new technology, which will become available in 2008, will make pickups as fuel-efficient as smaller cars

AP , MILFORD, MICHIGAN

Two electric motors, a V8 engine that can work on only four cylinders, a really smart computer and a four-speed transmission that joins them into one package.

General Motors Corp calls it "dual hybrid" technology and says that soon it will make pickup trucks or big sport utility vehicles (SUVs) as fuel efficient as some cars.

The technology, showcased with General Motors Corp's future engines and powertrains on Thursday at the company's proving grounds northwest of Detroit, will start showing up in the 2008 model year with the Chevrolet Tahoe SUV. It will be available on the GMC Yukon and Cadillac Escalade SUVs and the Chevrolet Silverado pickup -- GM's top-selling vehicle -- later that year.

GM says the hybrids, similar to those now in use in the transit buses of 39 cities, are so versatile that they will boost fuel economy by 25 percent over the current SUVs and pickups. For the two-wheel-drive Tahoe, which now gets an average of 12.8 liters per 100km in combined city-highway driving, that means nearly 10.2 liters per 100km.

Figures for city and highway driving haven't been calculated yet, but Tim Grewe, GM's chief engineer for rear-wheel-drive powertrain hybrids, said there will be a significant improvement.

"We give you the highway economy and we give you the city economy while maintaining SUV performance," he said.

The dual hybrids, developed jointly by thousands of engineers with GM, DaimlerChrysler AG and BMW AG, also will be placed in the Dodge Durango and BMW vehicles.

Prices on the GM vehicles haven't been set, Grewe said, but the company plans to make them competitive, similar to a US$2,000 premium on the hybrid version of the Saturn Vue.

The powertrains are huge for GM and its partners because they take the gas-guzzling prefix off of trucks and bring people back into the market, said Jim Sanfilippo, senior industry analyst for Bloomfield Hills-based Automotive Marketing Consultants Inc.

"It's a big thing. It's a terrific thing," Sanfilippo said.

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