Buick jumping into hybrid pool
General Motors Co. this morning announced plans to introduce an all-new plug-in hybrid Buick crossover sport-utility vehicle in 2011.
The Detroit automaker also has scheduled an event Aug. 13 to officially announce its investment in the automaker’s new Brownstown Township battery pack assembly facility at 20001 Brownstown Center Dr., Trenton.
The facility will produce the lithium ion battery packs for the Chevrolet Volt and other future extended range electric vehicles.
The yet-to-be named Buick SUV will launch in late 2010 with a direct-injected gasoline engine and then be followed in 2011 with a plug-in hybrid model, the company said.
“Buick will get our first plug-in hybrid, which will put the brand front and center in the advanced technology game,” Tom Stephens, GM’s vice chairman of global product development, said during a speech at the Management Briefing Seminars in Traverse City.
The company said it expects its vehicle to be the first commercially available plug-in hybrid SUV produced by a major automaker.
The new vehicle will depend upon new battery technology being developed for the Chevrolet Volt, an electric drive car slated for late next year.
Potentially, the SUV has the ability to get twice the fuel economy of comparably sized vehicles, the company said.
The technology was originally intended for the Saturn Vue, but GM is spinning off its Saturn brand as part of a strategy to focus on four core brands — Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac.
Stephens said the Buick crossover plug-in hybrid will use a 3.6-liter V6 engine with a modified version of the GM’s two-mode hybrid system and will be powered by a lithium-ion battery pack.
GM said it selected LG Chem to supply battery cells for the Buick and subsidiary Compact Power to supply the battery pack.
“This further demonstrates GM’s commitment to battery development,” Stephens said.