LA Auto Show: GM, Saturn Announce Vue Plug-in Plans

Treehugger has joined journalists and bloggers from around the world for the two-day extravaganza of media events leading up to the 100th Los Angeles Auto Show. We'll be bringing you news of some of the bigger developments and announcements as they unfold -- it's already been an exciting time!

The events kicked off this morning with a keynote by GM's Chair and CEO Rick Wagoner. Wagoner's speech focused on GM's plans for "greening" its fleet by focusing on flex-fuel models, electric cars (yes, the EV1 got a prominent mention) and fuel cell vehicles, and included a brief announcement of expansions to Saturn's Vue Green Line. At the press conference that followed, Jill Lajdziak, general manager of the Saturn division, detailed the company's plans to release a front-wheel-drive, 2-mode hybrid system in the Saturn Vue Green Line, and to follow that with a plug-in version of the vehicle.

According to company's literature, the 2-mode hybrid system will increase the Vue's fuel efficiency by 45% (over the non-hybrid version) with the following operations:

  • Engine off at idle
  • Low speed electric-only propulsion
  • Electric boosting during brisk acceleration, climbing steep grades or towing
  • Cutting off fuel to the engine during vehicle deceleration
  • Regenerative braking
  • Engine speed and load control
GM will also introduce 2-mode hybrid models of its Chevy Tahoe and GMC Yukon, in both rear-wheel and four-wheel drive options, in 2007. Right now, the company seems to be moving full speed ahead on some hybrids; most of them, however, are large vehicles (the upcoming Saturn Aura hybrid is an exception).

For those of you with more of an activist bent, you'll be happy to know that representatives of the Rainforest Action Network and the JumpStart Ford made their way to the stage after Wagoner's speech, and asked him to sign a pledge committing GM to significant improvements in fuel efficiency for the company's fleet by 2010. Wagoner politely declined.

Finally, Shell Oil has sponsored my trip to the LA Auto Show, and asked that we publish the following disclaimer:

Shell has underwritten Jeff McIntire-Strasburg's travel expenses to attend the LA Auto Show. Jeff is not required to blog about Shell products or initiatives. The only Shell requirement as a condition of underwriting these expenses was to include this disclosure of this relationship on Treehugger.

Done... and happy to do it. I'll be talking to one of Shell's reps tomorrow about their work in alternative fuels -- if you've got questions you'd like asked, feel free to leave them in the comments. ::GM Media Online and the LA Auto Show

Tags: California

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