Friday, March 2, 2007

BMW and DaimlerChrysler Rev Up Development of Premium Hybrid Cars

MUNICH, Germany — In the race to bring premium hybrid cars to market, the BMW Group and DaimlerChrysler announced on Thursday that they are expanding their collaboration and hustling to develop a mild hybrid-type module for rear-wheel-drive premium cars. The plan is to roll out the new system within the next three years on BMW and Mercedes-Benz vehicles.

bmw x3 hybridThe surprising part of the announcement is that it did not include any reference to General Motors, which formed an "alliance of equals" with the two German automakers in 2005 at the Hybrid Development Center in Troy, Michigan. The initial agreement called for the joint development of a two-mode hybrid drive system that cuts fuel consumption.

"No, we're not involved (in the expansion of the collaboration between BMW and DaimlerChrysler)," GM spokesman Brian Corbett told Inside Line. "It's my understanding all that work will be done in Europe for European cars. They want to go a different route." Corbett emphasized that the companies are "still cooperating on core two-mode hybrid technology." He added there is still the "possibility of additional luxury [GM] vehicles with hybrid" drive being developed.

GM will introduce hybrid versions of the Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon this fall. Those rollouts will be followed by a Cadillac Escalade with a two-mode hybrid system in mid-2008 as a 2009 model. Two-mode hybrid versions of the Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra crew-cab pickups will roll out at the end of 2008 as 2009 models.

The BMW/DaimlerChrysler announcement on Thursday did not go into specifics about precisely what kind of premium cars will feature the hybrid parts. The two automakers said that "The components will be individually adapted by the two companies to the different character of the two brands." Translation: Each automaker will roll out the hybrid system on its own products, with individual tweaks from each firm.

Separately, BMW on Wednesday announced it is a project collaborator on a new hydrogen filling station at the University of California-Irvine. "We at BMW believe that hydrogen will replace petroleum in the long term," said Tom Purves, chairman and CEO of BMW of North America.

© Source: article on insideline
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