Nov. 29, 2006: Autoblog—LA Auto Show: Rick Wagoner Announces Development of Plug-in Hybrid SUV

Summary: "General Motors CEO, Rick Wagoner, just wrapped up his keynote address to the salivating throngs of journos within the LA convention center and the crux of his comments centered on the flexibility of GM’s future vehicle’s fuel systems.

The major announcement was the development of a plug-in hybrid setup on the Saturn Vue Green Line’s front-wheel drive platform. It will be based on the front-wheel drive two-mode hybrid drivetrain that GM also announced today. Although no time frame was cited, Wagoner insists that development is underway with battery manufacturers to develop the technology as quickly as possible."

This article is in three parts: a blog with general impressions, notes taken during the speech, and GM’s official press release. The writer’s notes contradict the press release, which emphasizes plug-in and other hybrid development by GM. According to the notes, Wagoner mentioned ethanol first—no surprise, since flex-fuel powertrains are the easiest way for the auto company to fake gains in fuel economy while still selling fat SUVs.

GM still looks to hydrogen as the long-term cure for petroleum woes, with a few placebo hybrids in the meantime. No respected auto reviewer has yet raved about the Saturn Vue Geen Line; why GM would take a rattly, boxy SUV body and use that for its most advanced and efficient powertrain is a mystery.

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