August 10, 2010

BORING: GM Will Reintroduce “Mild Hybrids.” “I’m not talking about the Prius or the Insight, genuine hybrid cars, but rather the ‘half-hybrids’ cranked out by GM and Chrysler prior to their bankruptcy proceedings. There was the Saturn Vue Green Line, Cadillac Escalade Hybrid, the Chrysler Aspen Hybrid, even the Chevy Silverado Hybrid. Rather than running on electric engines at low speeds, some of these systems (like those in the Vue) used stop-start technology to save fuel when at a stop sign. Kinda half-hearted if you ask me.” Or me.

UPDATE: Reader Charles Prael writes:

Yep, they’re ho-hum. OTOH, I drive a mild-hybrid Chevy Silverado, which replaced a ’99 Chevy Tahoe. Simple reality: I get the same range out of either vehicle, but I’m putting 5 gallons less/tank in the Silverado vs. the Tahoe. Mileage is up by about 20%.

It may not be sexy, but a 20% boost in mileage for a working truck is nothing to sneeze at. Esp. when you’re talking about something that’s running a ~300HP engine. Oh, and did I mention that 2.7kw standby generator functionality?

Mind you, if Chevy converted their _entire_ truck line to mild hybrids, that would be a substantial difference, and something worth writing home about. But they’re pretty damned hard to come by, or were when I got mine. Like “only one available in Northern California” damned hard.

With CAFE requirements going up, they may. And reader Kevin Murphy writes:

The article you link to has several factual errors. One is that most or all of GMs hybrids were the mild engine-restart kind. Not true; they had a full-hybrid line in their last year, notably the Escalade and similar. The other error is that mild hybrids are of no use. Also not true; they are really cheap to add to a vehicle and save quite a bit in stop-and-go. If I believed in mandates, I’d suggest that one. Pretty good bang for the buck.

I’m no big fan of GM, but this isn’t something I’d criticize them for.

I’m not really criticizing, it’s just kinda. . . dull. But dull isn’t always bad. And reader Tim Hartigan writes:

The article snippet re: “mild hybrids” is a little misleading. Most of those vehicles are more than just start-stop and shouldn’t be lumped together. I have a Durango Hybrid that uses the same system as the Aspen, Silverado and Tahoe. It has a hemi engine. The hybrid system raises the mileage from 13 in a non-hybrid hemi Durango to 19mpg combined in the hybrid. It uses regenerative braking to charge the batteries, has two powerful electric engines and also utilizes Chrysler’s Multi Displacement System that turns the hemi into a four banger at highway speeds. For those who need the hauling capacity of a Durango, getting a 46% increase in mileage is laudable, IMHO.

Indeed.

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