GM working on a hybrid version of the Chevrolet Cruze

Article by Christian Andrei, on November 25, 2011

General Motors hopes to soon offer a formidable competitor against Toyota’s Prius plug-in. GM is currently developing a plug-in hybrid version of the Cruze, which is one of the top-selling cars in Australia. But it would be markedly different from the plug-in Volt that will arrive at Holden showrooms within a year.

The electrified version of the Cruze will be a plug-in hybrid instead of an electric car that’s equipped with a range-extender. Technically, these two models are plug-in hybrids since they combine a combustion engine with an electric motor and plug-in recharging capability.

However, the main difference is the Volt’s front wheels are driven the entire time by electric power. On the other hand, the Cruze plug-in makes use of a combination of both petrol and electric power. Over a year ago, GM unveiled a plug-in version of the Cruze with Volt running gear in the US.

When interviewed at the Los Angeles Motor Show, a GM spokesman told GoAuto that if the plug-in Cruze goes into production, it would be a very different product from the Volt. Jim Federico (the executive director and group vehicle line director and VLE for global compact, mini, small and EV) said that the Volt would “always be a plug-in electric vehicle.”

He said that Plug-in Cruze has a different powertrain from the Volt so there would really be no redundancy. Both the engine and motor will be used by the plug-in hybrids all the time. Federico added that the Volt incorporates an internal combustion engine just so it could replenish the car’s lithium-ion battery pack and this extends the driving range. However, the plug-in Cruze would be a hybrid with external charging capability similar to the Prius PHEV.

The design of the new Chevrolet Cruze is marked by a bold front end that features a two-tier grille and the iconic Bowtie logo. It features a sporty face as well as coupe-like proportions thanks to its steeply raked windshield that is connected to fast-sloping rear pillars by an arching roofline. Its headlamp housings wrap around the corners and then sweep upwards on the fenders and sculpted hood.

Its sportiness is also evident on the fact that it features a short rear deck -- typically found on sports coupes -- wheels located at the corners, as well as minimal front and rear overhangs. Likewise, the new Chevrolet Cruze has a wide yet confident stance. As a matter of fact, the newest iteration of the Chevrolet Cruze is wider and longer than most of its rivals. It boasts of a high-quality feel and solidity, as highlighted by the limited use of exterior trim and its tightly drawn bodywork.

In order to produce a solid and precise body for the Chevrolet Cruze, the carmaker retooled the body shop of its Lordstown assembly site with the latest body-framing and welding equipment.

This allowed Chevrolet to manufacture a very solid body structure with minimal production variances. In fact, the body of the Cruze features repeatable gap tolerances of 3 mm or less between most exterior panels.

On other hand, the interior of the new Chevrolet Cruze also features bold design cues with painstaking attention to detail. It features a twin-cockpit motif inspired by the Chevrolet Corvette and makes use of high-quality materials. Just like the exterior, the interior features exceptional assembly tolerances. Likewise the interior is fitted with low-gloss trim panels and grained, soft-touch components.

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