Saturn – Kermit's Favorite GM Division

January 15, 2008

Without a doubt, Saturn is clanging pot lids together in order for people to consider it a green, with-it division. To support their positioning, during their 2008 Detroit Auto Show press conference, Saturn trotted out the Opel Flextreme Concept hybrid (first shown in Frankfurt) with new Saturn badging, as well as the production 2009 Vue Green Line 2-Mode hybrid and a concept Vue Green Line hybrid with plug-in capabilities.

The Saturn/Opel Flextreme runs on GM's corporate eFlex platform that is under development for several upcoming vehicles, including the Chevrolet Volt. The eFlex platform can, apparently, handle several different "range enhancing" electricity generating units, including the diesel generator shown in the Flextreme. (You may remember that the Volt featured a gasoline-power generator. Cadillac's Provoq Concept uses a hydrogen-powered fuel cell.)

The Green Line 2-mode is the first front-wheel-drive application of The General's advanced two-mode hybrid system that it developed with BMW and the old Daimler-Chrysler. This new technology is paired with the excellent direct-injected 3.6-liter V-6 from the Cadillac CTS. Performance should be excellent on all counts; fuel economy (a 50-percent boost in city driving) and in performance.

Compared to the first two announcements, the last car on stage was the Vue Green Line with plug-in capabilities. It struck the crowd as kind of a yawner. As the vehicle's current state of development, 4-5 hours of charging at your home's plug nets one 10 miles of pure electric, low-speed driving. Many questions were left unanswered, such as how slow is low … and is 10 miles really worth the effort. These issues will work themselves out between now and when a production version bows in a couple of years. The vehicle's battery package and charging system still needs to optimized.

Check out all of our coverage for the 2008 Detroit International Auto Show here.

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