GM Opel Astra Diesel Hybrid
General Motor's new Opel
Astra Diesel Hybrid concept car shows off the scalability
of the hybrid system developed by the GM-DaimlerChrysler
collaboration. The Opel Astra Diesel Hybrid concept is
based on the production version of the gasoline-only Opel
Developed in Russelsheim,
Germany, the Astra Hybrid was built at the European International
Technical Development Center. The diesel hybrid is a two-mode
full hybrid and the 1.7-liter CDTI engine delivers up
to 25 percent improved fuel economy (in the 60-70 mpg
The two-mode, full hybrid architecture can be scaled to fit
FWD, RWD and AWD vehicles and adapted for both gasoline and
diesel engines. Two electric motors (30-kw and 40-kw) interact
with the variable drive system automatic transmission for smooth
acceleration and fuel savings.
The hybrid components are integrated into the compact Astra
Hybrid design, so that passenger comfort and functionality is
not compromised. For instance, the nickel-metal-hydride battery
pack is located in the spare tire well. Where the spare tire
will eventually reside, however is open to debate.
According to Hans H. Demant, GM's European engineering
vice president and Opel's managing director, "We decided
to use a diesel-powered car as a starting point because
in the mid-term, we don't see a demand for gasoline hybrids
in Europe. Our state-of-the-art CDTI engines already deliver
impressive dynamics and low fuel consumption. The Astra
concept demonstrates that fuel efficiency and vehicle dynamics
can be significantly improved by hybrid technology."
The Astra Diesel Hybrid is powered by a 92-kw (125-horsepower)
1.7-liter CDTI engine with a maintenance-free particulate
filter. Two electric motors, rated at 30 kw and 40 kw, also
add oomph delivering extra power as needed to that of the
turbo-diesel engine or operating by themselves in less demanding
conditions. The electric motors also power the Astra Hybrid
when accelerating from a full stop. When idling at a full
stop the electric motor will turn off in order to save energy.
The electric motors are also used as generators when decelerating
or when the brakes are applied. The regenerative braking
system, recharges the battery pack so that the vehicle never
needs to be plugged in.
The Astra Diesel Hybrid also incorporates two separate
electrical systems within the same vehicle. The drive system
uses high-voltage power for most of the driving demands.
A separate 12-volt system powers safety and convenience
items such as inside lights, HVAC and the audio system.
The Astra Diesel Hybrid may see the light on day one day
in Europe where diesel fuel in more prevalent. The exciting
part is that the Astra Diesel Hybrid technology, being fully
scalable, serves as a springboard for GM to use in other
vehicles such as trucks, SUV's, larger automobiles as well
as the compacts.
Robert Lutz, GM's vice chairman of product development
once said in 2004 that it didn't make sense to put hybrid
systems into less expensive cars that already get good gas
mileage. Lutz said, "Hybrids are an interesting curiosity
and we will do some. But, do they make sense at $1.50 a
gallon? No, they do not."
Well, things have changed since then and its good to see
GM getting on board in the hybrid car arena.