There was a lot of green buzz surrounding today's Saturn reveal at the GM stand. And the news, in short, goes like this.
The Saturn Vue is a small SUV with pretty good gas mileage for its class. A mild hybrid Vue has been on sale (and selling fairy well) for a couple years now. This BAS (belt, alternator, starter) hybrid system will save you about 20% on gas without much initial investment (as low as $800 depending on your state's subsidies) at the dealership.
But now, the Vue is getting electrified further. First, by Q4 2008 or Q1 2009, Saturn will be selling Vue 2-mode hybrids. The 2-mode system is GM's beefy hybrid. For a more significant investment, 2-mode vehicles are showing fuel economy improvements of around 50%. This year's "Green Car of the Year," the Chevy Tahoe Hybrid, sports GM's 2-mode system.
And while that's some good news for 2009, the real news is that they're aiming to have a plug-in version of the 2-mode Vue on dealer lots by 2011. This would take fuel economy improvements from a mere 50% an actual doubling of the current non-hybrid Vue's mileage. GM's official position is that they are going to be the first car company with a plug-in hybrid running on the streets.
What they mean is that they hope that they will be the first major manufacturer with a plug-in hybrid. They're almost certainly going to be beat to the punch by the $80,000 Fisker Karma plug-in, and it's still possible that Toyota could surprise us with a plug-in Prius. However, at this point, that's starting to look more and more unlikely.
Note: GM paid for my hotel and travel to the Detroit Auto Show.
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