GM to Offer 5 Hybrid-Electric Models By 2007
DETROIT, Dec. 23 -- General Motors, which has been the most reticent major carmaker when it came to the prospects for hybrid vehicles, intends to offer some form of hybrid electric power on five of its major models over the next four production years, according to people briefed on the plan.
GM's plan, which will be announced next month at the North American International Auto Show here, is a surprising endorsement of the fledgling hybrid technology, which improves gasoline mileage by supplementing the internal combustion engine with electric power. GM, the largest automaker, will offer several versions of the hybrid technology. The most advanced will be on the Saturn Vue sport utility vehicle, while less advanced versions will be available on the GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado pickup trucks, a coming Chevrolet pickup called the Equinox and the Chevrolet Malibu.
The development is a sign that the Big Three are growing increasingly serious about the technology as a business threat from overseas. For several years, Toyota and Honda have been the only companies offering hybrid cars. The Toyota Prius, for instance, has an electric motor that takes over for the internal combustion engine at low speeds. The car never needs plugging in, a shortcoming of battery-powered cars, because the battery is recharged by the gasoline engine. Honda sells a small aluminum hybrid, called the Insight, and a hybrid version of its Civic.
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