GM CEO Dishes On Two New Plug-In Hybrid Vehicles

The Chevrolet Volt may finally be rolling off the assembly line, but it seems General Motors’ push for vehicle electrification is far from complete. According to CEO Dan Ackerson, the company is preparing to launch two new plug-in hybrid/extended-range electric models, and aims to have each U.S. brand selling at least one model with similar technology.

Speaking at the Automotive News World Conference in Detroit, Ackerson revealed to the Detroit Free Press that the company is planning to utilize the company’s Voltec plug-in hybrid/extended-range electric driveline in a new mini-minivan/MPV. The announcement isn’t exactly shocking, as GM has long indicated it needed to implement the driveline in several models to help recoup development and production costs (presently, Voltec is only used in the Volt, and its badge-engineered European cousins, the Opel/Vauxhall Ampera).

Sound familiar? GM previewed such a vehicle with the Volt MPV5 concept, which was unveiled at the 2010 Beijing auto show. Like the Volt, the MPV5 rode atop a modified form of GM’s Delta II architecture, and bore considerable resemblance to the new Orlando MPV sold in Europe. Those points, along with an interior that looked suspiciously close to production-ready, suggested the concept wasn’t exactly a pie-in-the sky exercise. Although the concept was badged as a Chevrolet, a number of brands — including Buick, GMC, or even Opel/Vauxhall — could lay claim to the production model.

The MPV may not be the only new Voltec application. Ackerson revealed GM plans on rolling out a second extended-range electric hatchback, but declined to provide any additional details. Although he could be speaking about an all-new vehicle, we can’t help but note the Ampera — which has yet to reach European showrooms — is also classified as a hatchback.

Ackerson also dished on the scuttled 2-Mode plug-in hybrid architecture, which was once slated for the stillborn Saturn VUE PHEV, and subsequently, a badge-engineered Buick variant. Although it still allows drivers some amount of pure electric propulsion, the driveline differs markedly from the Voltec system, and uses a scaled-down variant of the company’s 2-Mode hybrid transmission, found in its full-size hybrid pickup and SUVs. Ackerson noted the driveline is once again destined for production, and will likely be offered in a Cadillac SRX — unsurprising, as the SRX’s Theta II architecture is similar to that used in the Vue.

Source:  Detroit Free Press