GM's 'Mild Hybrid' Design Expands to New Models

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General Motor's "mild hybrid" system is similar to a full hybrid car as it's powered by a lithium-ion battery. However, it still uses gas power for the "heavy lifting." Photo: General Motors

Today General Motors (GM) announced the second generation of its “mild hybrid” design, which will be used on all 2012 Buick Regal models.

The 2012 Buick Regal will be 25 percent more fuel efficient. Photo: General Motors

The eAssist powertrain will improve fuel efficiency by about 25 percent by using a lithium-ion battery to propel the car from a stopped position as well as run electrical systems during idle so the engine can turn off.

This is not unlike most traditional hybrids; the major difference is that the battery has a much smaller storage capacity, so the car still relies entirely on the gas-powered engine to do the heavy lifting.

“The battery system is designed to provide power assistance to the internal combustion engine, rather than store energy for all-electric propulsion,” said Steve Poulos, global chief engineer of the eAssist system, on GM’s website. “It’s really an extension of the conventional internal combustion engine, not a replacement for it.”

GM estimates the new fleet of eAssist-enabled Regals – available this fall – will get 25 miles per gallon in the city and about 37 miles per gallon on the highway.

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