GM launched full production of its anticipated two-mode hybrid transmission at their plant outside of Baltimore, Maryland. The key features of this drive system are its electric-only launch capability, as well as its electric boost to assist the gas engine. The effort is a pivotal one as it positions GM to compete within the growing hybrid market place, which is currently dominated by Toyota Motor Co.
The two-mode, targeted for fullsize SUVs and pickup trucks, will debut in the 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid and the 2008 GMC Yukon Hybrid. GM says the system will result in a 50 percent improvement in city economy, while being 10 percent more efficient on the highway. They expect an overall boost of roughly 30 percent. This puts a 2WD Tahoe at a rating of 21 city/22 highway. To put those numbers into perspective, the two-mode hybrid technology will produce an 8-passenger vehicle boasting a 332-horsepower engine, that’s as efficient in city driving as a four-cylinder Toyota Camry. Achieving that kind of fuel economy without compromising performance and capability could change the way people view SUVs altogether.
The Tahoe and Yukon Hybrids are slated to hit showrooms in late 2007 with a base price range of $40,000-$45,000, virtually the same as their gas-powered counterparts. The two-mode transmission will be built for five new hybrid vehicles next year, including two full-size pickup trucks.