General Motors (GM) is set to launch a plug-in sport-utility vehicle (SUV) in 2011 notwithstanding having recently canceled its Saturn brand.
Tom Stephens, Vice Chairman of General Motors, said in an interview that that the company also could consider launching an all-electric small car for crowded cities. This plan will, according to Stephens, mark GM’s return to a technology that it had abandoned in 2003.
GM said that, aided by the US-government’s turnaround funding, the company will launch 14 new, fuel-saving hybrid models by 2012. The focus is on the Volt, an electric-drive car that GM is aiming to present in late 2010. The Volt also has a small gas-engine for extended-range driving.
The Volt will have a 40-mile driving range on a single battery charge – a distance that the company claims to cover a round-trip for most urban commuters. However, the consumer will have to pay over $30,000 for the Volt, even after a federal rebate.
In 2008, General Motors also announced its plans for a plug-in version of its Saturn Vue sport-utility vehicle which would carry a lithium-ion battery pack rechargeable at a standard outlet – thus lessening the need for using gas from its 3.6-liter engine.
The Saturn Vue plug-in SUV was being designed with the capability to be driven 10 miles on electric power only. However, the company’s plans to launch the rechargeable Saturn Vue plug-in SUV were complicated by a decision in 2009 to abandon the Saturn brand.
According to Tom Stephens, work on the plug-in technology behind the Saturn Vue SUV “remained on track” and the vehicle that would replace the cancelled Saturn will be an SUV from one of General Motors’ four remaining brands – Chevy, Cadillac, Buick and GMC.