A General Motors spokesperson told Automotive News that the company planned to sell 27,000 mild hybrid vehicles this year, but is falling short because its supplier, Cobasys, provided faulty batteries. In an exclusive interview with HybridCars.com, a Cobasys executive—who asked not to be named—responded to GM statements and press reports, saying, “A lot of it is not correct,” but declined to elaborate further.
The GM spokesman, who was not clearly identified in the Automotive News article, said the company voluntarily recalled about 9,000 hybrid vehicles beginning in December 2007. GM said the problem involved an internal leak in the battery pack that caused the hybrid system to fail. The vehicle could still be driven, although without the benefits of the hybrid system.
The news about the battery-related recall comes at a time when GM is trying to ramp up its green image—despite hybrid sales numbers which remain significantly lower than those reported by Toyota, Honda, and cross-town rival Ford. It’s unlikely that the recent introduction of GM’s first hybrid sedan, the Chevy Malibu Hybrid—one of the vehicles affected by the battery problems—will reverse the trend.
The battery problems affected the Saturn Vue Green Line, Saturn Aura Green Line, and Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid. Through May, combined 2008 sales for the three vehicles were approximately 1,000 units. The company uses a different supplier for the hybrid system found in the company’s full-size SUV hybrids, which account for approximately several hundred sales so far this year.