Posted By RichC on April 5, 2008
Over the next few years, there will be an increase in ‘light’ hybrid vehicles similar to the Saturn Vue Green Line Hybrid, especially from General Motors (see Chevrolet Fuel Solutions). From what is in the press, GM in particular intends on meeting new economy standards with smaller engines and a small electric motor and battery. The new drivetrains will add between $1500-$3000 to many vehicles in their line-up (about the price of a GPS/DVD navigation and entertainment option). I will not be surprise if in a few years light hybrid systems will be commonplace; in fact having a passenger car without hybrid technology might be the oddity? As I recall, not too many years ago power windows and air conditioning were seen as expensive options … not to mention power steering!
Unlike the popular Toyota Prius, the ‘light’ hybrid uses battery assisted electric motor for boost — starts, climbing hills and heavy acceleration. The low capacity battery pack will keep the weight and price down making the improved efficiency affordable. This ‘strap on’ system even uses current ‘gear shifting’ transmissions and although is probably not the automotive change many expect, is probably the most cost effective way to gain a few miles per gallon.
The PBS automotive program Motorweek reviewed the 2008 Saturn Vue Green Line Hybrid this past weekend and offers a look at what I think many American cars will be like in the coming years. From a dollar and sense perspective, these ‘light’ hybrids offer the improvement in fuel economy required and won’t break the bank.