VUE Hybrid SUV
The Saturn VUE Hybrid SUVstarted rolling out in mid-2006. According
to GM, the Vue Hybrid SUV is a mild hybrid with increased fuel
efficiency of 20-percent over the standard model. When the full
hybrid of the Saturn VUE Hybrid SUV comes to market, it is expected
to achieve around 40 mpg.
The Saturn VUE Hybrid features General Motors' new Belt Alternator
Starter Hybrid System. According to GM, "The Belt Alternator
Starter (BAS) Hybrid System combines engine controls with a
precision electric motor/generator, providing an estimated fuel
economy savings of 10 percent." The mild hybrid system
is basically a gasoline-powered vehicle assisted with an electric
motor as needed where a full hybrid system is the opposite.
Full hybrid systems typically give better fuel economy than
mild systems, though Honda may argue otherwise. The Saturn VUE
Hybrid will feature an engine idle shutoff system with quick
restart, regenerative braking, early fuel cutoff and electric
motor transmission shift smoothing. The Saturn VUE Hybrid combines
the BAS system with a 2.4 liter, four-cylinder ECOTEC engine
and a 42-volt nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) battery connected
to the 12-volt electrical system. The Saturn VUE Hybrid SUV
also offesr both a 5-speed manual and 4-speed automatic transmission.
Saturn VUE BAS System
While critics say that a 20-percent fuel savings is not significant
enough, GM will be able to offer the vehicle for around the
$20,000 mark making it the most affordable hybrid SUV on the
market. The strategy with the mild hybrid line is to offer some
fuel savings with very little cost over the gasoline-only model.
The VUE mild hybrid is most likely an interim hybrid vehicle
that GM was able to get to market quickly while developing the
more robust full hybrids. At least this is a step in the right
direction of getting the public acclimated to owning hybrids
and weaning themselves from all gasoline vehicles.