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Thursday, January 7, 2010

GM Developing Diesel-Electric Hybrid Drivetrains for Vauxhall / Opel

General Motors today disclosed that it is developing a range of diesel-electric hybrid drivetrains that could appear in production Vauxhalls and Opels within five years.

Engineers at GM Europe's powertrain headquarters in Turin, Italy, are studying the feasibility of integrating the company's existing hybrid components - motor-generators, batteries and control electronics - with diesel engines.

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

"if you want the best fuel consumption, you have to go with the diesel-electric hybrid," he said. Hybrids are most efficient in the city, while diesels are best for highway, Cisternino said.

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

Cisternino said his team is aiming for a $1,500 premium over gas-electric hybrids, similar to the difference between conventional petrol and diesel cars. But he admitted that "this does not work at the moment."

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 center will begin replacing existing 1.7- to 2.0-liter engines from 2012, and early prototypes are already running in laboratory conditions, he said.

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