GM Working On Diesel Hybrids

At the moment, there is only one automaker in the world that has production plans for a car with a diesel hybrid powertrain: Peugeot. But that could change in the near future with news that General Motors is now working on its own version of the super efficient drivetrain.

General Motors is said to be working on a whole range of diesel-electric powertrains, with ongoing engineering development work currently underway at GM’s diesel engine headquarters in Turin. The diesel-electric powertrain is tentatively scheduled to enter production by the middle of this decade, around 2014 – 2016.

Most of the engineering development work General Motors is carrying out on the new diesel-electric system is centered on the company’s new 1.6L diesel engine. At the moment, The General is working on multiple hybrid systems, rather than concentrating on just a single given layout. The automaker’s engineering staff is experimenting with everything from mild hybrid systems to diesel versions of the Voltec system that will be used in the Chevrolet Volt and Opel Ampera.

A diesel-electric hybrid system is the way to go according to Maurizio Cisternino, GM Europe’s advanced technology chief engineer, “If you want the best fuel consumption, you have to go with the diesel-electric hybrid.” And I’m not going to argue with him, because the engineering facts are there.

Although a diesel-electric hybrid system is expensive, it is the powertrain that holds the most promise for both range and overall efficiency. Running on batteries/hybrid in the city is the most efficient use of that end of the drivetrain, and the diesel is best adapted to highway cruising.

General Motors hopes to have some form of a diesel hybrid auto in production within the next 5 years, but as with everything GM, that will depend on the cost of the technology. Since GM has been run from the accounting department for time immemorial, they are sweating the cost numbers as much as they are working through the engineering R & D. They are hoping to hold the added premium of going with a diesel hybrid drivetrain to around $1,400 over a gas-electric hybrid vehicle, but at the moment, those numbers are not there.

At the moment, the oil burning/ hybrid tech is being developed for GM’s Opel and Vauxhall brands, brands that are only sold in Europe. Of course General Motors could bring the technology over to The States, but if they do, it will several years behind the technology’s European launch.