The Saturn Vue is a small SUV with sleek lines and good gas mileage (for an SUV). Already, the car has a hybrid option, and the LA Auto Show has seen two exciting announcements concerning the Vue. First, the 2007 Vue Hybrid will have significantly increased fuel economy, from 20% better than the non-hybrid to over 40% better than the non-hybrid. But, of course, the most exciting news is that GM is committing to a plug-in hybrid Vue. Simply, an expanded battery pack will be charged at home, and the electrical motor will run more frequently, significantly increasing the efficiency of the vehicle.
The specs aren't out yet, and neither is the release date. But GM is the first major auto company to release plans to produce a plug-in hybrid.
General Motors has repeatedly stated that it's not a huge fan of hybrid vehicles. The hybrid drivetrain, they say, is redundant, thus making the vehicle heavier, more complex, more expensive and more difficult to service an recycle. This is absolutely the truth, but besides a true EV, there aren't any other low emissions technologies out there...yet. With the plug-in Vue, I see an actual commitment to exploring technologies fast (though significantly slower than hobbyists, of course.) We'll see where this vision carries GM in the future, and whether they'll be the first company with plug-in vehicles on the road.
EcoGeek's coverage of the LA Auto Show was underwritten by the General Motors Company, which, we agree, is very strange since we say some fairly mean things about them with some regularity. The only condition of their assistance (travel and lodging) is that I disclose it, which, of course, I would have done anyway.
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