GM'S plug-in Hybrid SUVMartin LaMonica of CNET News takes a test drive of a plug-in hybrid SUV being developed by GM at GM's Milford Proving Ground in Michigan on August 11, 2009.
>> This is Martin LaMonica with CNET News. I went to General Motors Milford Proving Grounds in Southeast Michigan on Tuesday, where I got a ride in a plug in hybrid SUV being developed by GM. While I drove I spoke to Larry Nitz, the executive director of hybrid and electric powertrain engineering. ^m00:00:21 So the Buick will have this in a crossover sort of similarly sized... >> Yeah, similarly sized crossover as this car. >> So it sounds like I'm... >> So it's going to operate pretty much like a normal hybrid, a little more electric drive, up to about 40 miles an hour. And the idea is you're going to plug in at night, you're going to get the electricity off the grid, and then you get it depleted in about the first 20 miles. Why 20 miles? Because we want you to come home empty. We want you to use it all every time you go out. 20 miles was chosen as a reasonable amount of time to get the discharge done, pass all the emissions, pass all the onboard diagnostics, which is the biggest challenge of this whole job. We're using the engine so little of the time that to run the actual fuel economy emissions and diagnostic test, it takes about 20 miles to discharge it out of the battery. We're running a... it's kind of a slalom or city course here. >> Alright. I can't say it feels any different than the hybrid I've driven. >> Well that's good, that's the way it's supposed to be; pretty... not different, it's not supposed to be a lot different. You're running all that.... city courses maybe, which is good. >> How about the feedback system here? I mean I'm looking at this hybrid dial here and it's not moving much. >> Well it's because you're on electric in the weight. >> OK. >> I don't know if you can get that, see that, but the electric is white. There you go. And if you... when we step on it later it'll go to green, and then all the way to orange if you drive very aggressively. >> OK, so it's... >> Another power flow here.... that shows when it's region and when it's battery power only. So now if you lay on the power here, you get all the way into the orange. >> So this is gas only here? >> Well it's gas and electric probably boosting here. ^m00:02:28 It's got a nice powerful engine, but smooth; V6, very smooth. >> And it does the regenerative braking? >> Does all the regenerative braking to recharge the battery. >> Alright when you let up on the gas it... >> Fuel turns off and you start the charging. >> The plug in hybrid like this would just feel like an eel. >> It'll feel like a normal hybrid, yeah. >> Quieter and lower speeds. >> Yeah. I think we've done a really good job on the electric motors. You don't hear a lot of motor whine on all those regions, or you didn't hear a lot of motor whine on the axles. It gets benchmarked better than the competition in my mind for electric motor whine and noise. So we're really happy with how that came out, and we'll continue to do that. >> Yeah, it was a good ride. >> OK. >> Thanks for taking me along on a ride.