GM Showcases Hydrogen and Hybrid Technologies at Chinas Initial Michelin Challenge Bibendum

  • Announces the first hybrid project with SAIC
  • Demonstrates near, mid- and long-term solutions

ShanghaiGeneral Motors China today announced the first joint hybrid bus program with Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation Group (SAIC) for the Chinese market in conjunction with its participation in the Michelin Challenge Bibendum. The world’s largest automaker is showcasing a range of near, mid- and long-term solutions for cleaner, sustainable transportation at the world’s premier clean vehicle event, which is being held in Shanghai from October 12-14.

GMs broad range of advanced automotive technologies on display, which dramatically reduce emissions and improve efficiency, include the revolutionary Hy-wire and HydroGen3 hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles, and a parallel hybrid pickup.

“The launch of our new hybrid bus program and our participation in the Challenge Bibendum demonstrate that GM is not just focusing on today’s market but helping drive the development of a sustainable automotive industry in China through mutually beneficial partnerships,” said Phil Murtaugh, Chairman, and CEO of the General Motors China Group. “We are leveraging GMs century of technological advances to improve the performance, efficiency, and emissions of vehicles in China.”

According to Murtaugh, “The hybrid bus project represents one of the first concrete steps being taken jointly by GM and SAIC in the promotion of fuel-efficient and environmentally clean transportation. GM’s strategy is to initially apply hybrid technology in high-volume and high fuel-consumption vehicles such as mass transit buses. Our hybrid bus project will help Shanghai explore alternatives that have the potential to greatly impact its public transportation system.”

The joint hybrid bus program will utilize a hybrid powertrain developed by GMs Allison Transmission Division that uses dual electric motors to launch the bus from a stop and regenerative braking to capture energy in an advanced battery system. It will be packaged in a bus manufactured by Sunwin, SAIC’s bus joint venture in Shanghai.

The hybrid technology is already being used to power public buses in several American cities including Seattle, Philadelphia, Minneapolis and Portland. It has demonstrated the capability to yield as much as 60 percent better fuel economy and reduce certain emissions by up to 90 percent. Because of the unique configuration of its hybrid electric drive, the bus will generate less noise, require less brake maintenance and produce less engine wear.

GM and SAIC will jointly produce one hybrid bus for commercial evaluation in the primary stage of the program. The partners will then leverage real-world in-use data to study the feasibility of mass-producing the hybrid bus for Shanghai and China.

There are currently about 17,000 buses in operation in Shanghai. Each runs an average of 155 miles (250 kilometers) per day. A 30 percent improvement in fuel economy could result in savings of 12 tons of fuel per vehicle per year.

Hu Maoyuan, President of SAIC, said: “The new partnership will enable us to combine GM’s rich global resources and emerging technologies with SAIC’s expertise in the development of commuter buses for the creation of the next generation of motor vehicles in China. We are focusing first on buses because of their importance to Chinas public transportation system and because they consume greater amounts of fuel.”

In addition to the hybrid bus project, GM also is highlighting several other advanced technology vehicles at the Challenge Bibendum, which is taking place in China for the first time.

Named for its unique combination of hydrogen fuel cells and by-wire technology, the Hy-wire is, in essence, a reinvention of the automobile. Its body rides on a skateboard-like chassis. The driver controls the vehicle by twisting handgrips to accelerate, squeezing them to brake and turning them to steer.

The HydroGen3, which is based on the Opel Zafira, is the first fuel cell vehicle operated for commercial purposes. Currently being driven on the streets of Tokyo and Washington, D.C., the HydroGen3 can reach 100 miles (160 kilometers) per hour with crisp acceleration.

The hybrid pickup, which is making its debut in China, is a fuel-efficient yet full-powered vehicle. It fits GM’s strategy of bringing hybrid propulsion to large market segments in North America and to products that consume more fuel. The hybrid vehicle uses a V-8 engine and a compact electric motor to deliver full-size truck performance and a fuel economy improvement.

“We believe the key is developing a variety of technologies with the goal of saving the most fuel. Near-term technologies along with our comprehensive hybrid technology plan will form the bridge that takes us to a hydrogen economy when we can produce fuel cells in large numbers. GM is working with a range of partners in industry, government, and academia to make this happen in China,” said Murtaugh.

SAIC is one of Chinas largest vehicle manufacturers. Last year it sold more than 782,000 vehicles and had revenue of nearly RMB 187 billion. It is a partner with GM in Shanghai GM and the Pan Asia Technical Automotive Center (PATAC), and with GM China in SAIC-GM-Wuling, Shanghai GM Dong Yue Motors, Shanghai GM Dong Yue Automotive Powertrain, and Shanghai GM (Shenyang) Norsom Motors. In addition, SAIC subsidiary Shanghai Automotive Group Finance Company (SAICFC) is a partner with General Motors Acceptance Corporation (GMAC) in GMAC-SAIC Automotive Finance Company.

General Motors designs, builds and markets cars and trucks worldwide, and has been the global automotive sales leader since 1931. GM employs 325,000 people around the world, including more than 12,000 in China. It operates seven joint ventures and two wholly-owned foreign enterprises in China. GM today has manufacturing operations in 32 countries and its vehicles are sold in 192 countries.