The Daily Herald from Arlington Heights, Illinois on March 8, 2008 · Page 336
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The Daily Herald from Arlington Heights, Illinois · Page 336

Arlington Heights, Illinois
Issue Date:
Saturday, March 8, 2008
Page 336
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SATURDAY, MARCH 8, 2008 An Advertising supplement to the Daily Herald DailyHerald aturday ' r ' ' ' ft*""" 1 SECTION 6 Daimler, GM push car makers with 'mild' hybrids BY COLLEEN BARRY APRtuiniyi \\iiltr GENEVA — General Motors Corp. and Daimler AG unveiled plans this week for lithium-ion hybrids as automakers push to overcome difficulties with a technology that promises to drive hybrid autos to the next level of performance. Daimler AG will be the first to get to market, announcing its intention to introduce a hybrid version of its Mercedes-Benz flagship S-class luxury sedan using a gasoline engine and a lithium-ion power source in 2009. The new S-class is what is called a "mild" hybrid, meaning the electric motor aids combustion but does not itself drive the car, instead boosting the main engine. The new models will have a carbon dioxide emissions level of 190 grams per kilometer (0.6 mile), higher than some small cars but which Daimler strategist Johannes Reifenrath said would make it the most efficient luxury car in the world. To date, the least-emitting car in Mercedes" fleet is the diesel S-class, with 230 grams per kilometer. The Mercedes example demonstrates the application of the technology at the luxury end of the market, and is spurred in part by tougher regulations due to take effect in Europe in 2012 that would require automakers to reduce average emissions in their fleet to 130 grams per kilometer. "Change has to start now. Automakers can't wait until 2012," Reifenrath said. General Motors said it expects to bring its first lithium-ion battery powered hybrid engine system to market in North America sometime in 2010. No products have been yet announced, but officials said the technology had potential across a broad range of models. GM showcased the technology in a Saab concept car, boasting carbon emissions of 117 grams per kilometer on gas and 105 grams per kilometer on ethanol. Unlike with GM's other hybrid project, the Volt, which has a large battery that can move the car by itself, the new concept uses a smaller battery about the size of case of soft drinks to assist the main internal-combustion motor. The dual announcements indicated an increased confidence in the technology, already widely used in consumer electronics. But adapting to meet demanding auto requirements has been an obstacle, as have concerns about costs and overheating. "I think there's a trend there. I think it is good news that Mercedes and GM are coming out at the same time," said GM spokesman Scott Fosgard. The Detroit-based automaker is working with Hitachi Ltd., which has used a lithium- ion battery in an electric car, to develop its technology. GM's chief hybrid engineer, Stephen Poulos, said that the Hitachi battery design would give the GM application a degree of stability because it was easy to regulate the flow of energy — but that tests were still being done to ensure stability to prevent overheating and die potential for fires. "There are a lot of controls to make sure that doesn't happen," he said. "It is a more forgiving application of the lithium ion than most applications out there." Because they are smaller yet more powerful dian the nickel-metal hydride batteries used in first-generation hybrid cars, like Toyota Motor Corp.'s Prius, lithium-ion technology holds the potential to be used across a wider range of models — as Mercedes' launch of the technology in its powerful S class indicates. GM CEO Rick Wagoner said the company expected the technology to improve fuel economy by 20 percent. But he said that to have a real impact, the technology must drive high volumes. "The view is that the technology has the opportunity to get a much better range on a small battery and this has a chance to break through in a big way," Wagoner said. GM said it expects hybrid sales volumes to exceed 100,000 vehicles per year. The system would build on GM's current hybrids, reducing engineering costs and the cost to consumers, the company said. The battery system would be mated to a wide range of GM engines, including tur- bocharged gasoline, diesel and bio-fuel powerplants. GM said hi a statement that the new hybrid system would save fuel by turning the engine off at idle and cutting off fuel during deceleration. It would offer brief electric-only power, the company said in a statement. 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