GM developing a range of diesel-electric hybrid drivetrains

Article by Christian Andrei, on August 27, 2010

In five years, we could be seeing a range of diesel-electric hybrid drivetrains developed by General Motors Co. that would appear in production Vauxhalls and Opels.

Engineers at GM Europe's powertrain HQ in Turin are studying if integrating Ford's existing hybrid components (motor-generators, batteries and control electronics) with diesel engines is feasible. 

GM Europe's advanced technology chief engineer, Maurizio Cisternino, said that everything from mild hybrids to a diesel version of the Voltec powertrain architecture of the Volt/Ampera is on the table. 

Cisternino added that for the best fuel consumption rate, you have to go with the diesel-electric hybrid. He said that through simulations, it has been proven that hybrids are most efficient in the city, while diesels are best for motorways.

Cisternino believes that C and D-segment models like the Astra and Insignia are the best candidates for "more substantial electrification."

This of course means that they have the most technically advanced hybrid systems. Cisternino's group aims for a 1,000 euro (GBP880) premium over petrol-electric hybrids -- similar to the difference between conventional petrol and diesel cars.

Cisternino admitted that this doesn't work at the moment but GM's first diesel-electric hybrids are likely to utilize an all-new 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder diesel being developed in Turin (home to GM's global diesel engine development center) as well as a special unit dedicated to diesel hybridization.

The team will start replacing existing 1.7 to 2.0-liter engines from 2012. In fact, early prototypes are already running in laboratory conditions. 

Topics: gm, diesel, hybrid

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