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Lithium's Working? Daimler and GM Promising Better Hybrids

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We've had our doubts about lithium-ion battery technology for hybrids. But with General Motors, Toyota and Daimler AG working on the more powerful batteries, a breakthrough was more likely than not.

The great leap forward has happened--and it's hybrid latecomer Daimler that says it will deliver the world's first gas-electric vehicle using lithium-ion batteries. The German automaker says its Mercedes-Benz division will deliver the first such hybrid in the form of the S400 BlueHYBRID, which will be shown off at this week's Geneva motor show. Daimler promises the S-Class outfitted with the lithium-ion batteries will be on sale in 2009, and will be the world's most economical luxury sedan.

The stats? Fuel economy of about 30 mpg for the big sedan. The combined powertrain will deliver 299 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. A 0-60 mph time of 7.3 seconds is claimed. To boost efficiency, Daimler routes some of the car's climate-controlled air to keep the battery at optimal temperature.

Meanwhile, GM is also promising a big leap forward with hybrids this week in Geneva. The company will also swap to lithium-ion batteries--which offer better efficiency than nickel-metal hydride batteries--in its hybrids, such as the Chevrolet Malibu and Saturn Aura sedans. GM hopes to sell more hybrids than Toyota by adding vehicles like the new hybrid Chevrolet Volt.

Daimler, GM Juice Up Hybrid Plans -

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