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Two-Mode Hybrid Vehicles Dominate the Los Angeles Auto Show

Energy Eficiency and Renewable Energy
November 21, 2007

The Toyota Prius may currently be the top seller for hybrid vehicles, but when the Los Angeles Auto Show opened in mid-November, it became clear that the Japanese automaker is in for some competition. General Motors Corporation (GM) unveiled three hybrids in Los Angeles: the 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid sport utility vehicle and the 2008 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid sedan, both of which will go on sale soon, as well as a surprise newcomer, the 2009 Chevrolet Silverado Hybrid pickup. The Silverado will be the first hybrid pickup when production begins next year. But for now, the Tahoe Hybrid was named the 2008 Green Car of the Year, beating out four other hybrid models for the title. The award from the Green Car Journal cited the Tahoe Hybrid’s new two-mode hybrid system, which achieves a 50% improvement in fuel economy during city driving. All of GM’s hybrid vehicles, including the Cadillac Escalade Hybrid (covered in the November 14th edition of the EERE Network News and also on display in Los Angeles), feature the two-mode system. The Los Angeles Auto Show is open to the public though November 25th.

Chrysler LLC also got into the act by introducing the 2009 Chrysler Aspen HEMI Hybrid and the 2009 Dodge Durango HEMI Hybrid, which will be the company’s first hybrids. Like the new GM hybrid, the Chrysler hybrids feature the two-mode hybrid system that was developed in a partnership of Chrysler, GM, Mercedes Benz, and the BMW Group. For the Chrysler vehicles, the hybrid system is expected to deliver a 25% improvement in overall fuel economy, including a 40% improvement in fuel economy in city driving. The system incorporates two small electric motors into its transmission, yielding an electric continuously variable transmission that operates in two modes: one mode for low speeds and light loads, and another mode for highway speeds. The system was developed by the four automakers at their Hybrid Development Center in Troy, New York.

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