Chevrolet Equinox, GMC Terrain to receive GM’s eAssist

Article by Christian Andrei, on October 7, 2011

Combining General Motors’ eAssist (a new light electrification system) with a very fuel efficient four-cylinder engine enabled the automaker to set a new fuel economy record for two sedan segments. This simple but highly advanced tech system resulted to extensive fuel economy improvements with minimal added costs.

Several GMI sources said that GM has lined up two of its most successful crossovers to have electric versions. It was also revealed that GM will use the eAssist on the Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain crossovers. These two crossovers will become electrified for the 2014 model year and will use the system featured on the existing eAssist sedans. Initially, GM had intended to delay electrifying the small utes until their next redesign scheduled for the later part of the decade.

But GM changed its decision and now moves for the current eAssist to be used earlier, according to GMInsideNews. The reason for making this change is related more to manufacturing than fuel economy. When the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu would be launched exclusively with the eAssist system, GM believes that there will be major drop in the demand for the eAssist variant (named Malibu Eco) as soon as the car’s all-new 2.5-liter engine goes on sale later in 2012 as it is a cheaper option.

GM sought to prevent sharp drops and increases in eAssist production by expanding the technology to the Equinox and Terrain. The improved fuel economy is also seen as a distinct advantage.

The eAssist system features a small electric motor and lithium ion battery pack to have improvements in fuel economy of 20% city and 32% highway on the Buick LaCrosse and Regal. During stops, the system enables the gas engine to totally shut off, while the electric motor can also aid the gas engine under light loads. If the Equinox and Terrain get comparable percentage improvements compared to current ratings, they may have highway ratings of up to 38 MPG.

There have been rumors that the Equinox and Terrain will be produced in GM’s Spring Hill, Tennessee plant. To keep up with demand, the plant raised production by five times this year so far. It’s probable that adding eAssist and even higher fuel economy ratings may worsen GM’s supply problem with the two crossovers. The electrified Equinox and Terrain are slated to be launched in 2013 as 2014 models. The Equinox will take on the name: “Equinox Eco.”

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