Automakers combine forces to develop new hybrid transmission

Tired of getting their rear ends handed to them by the Prius, GM, BMW, and DaimlerChrysler plan to invest over $1 billion in R&D toward a new hybrid transmission that, boosters say, will leave Toyota’s market-leading hybrid in the dust. “Dual-mode” hybrid technology includes an onboard fuel-optimization computer that will calculate whether the vehicle should be using its electric motor or its gasoline combustion engine, and determine how the onboard battery will be recharged. The system can be adjusted to emphasize either improved value or high performance. GM plans to introduce the technology in Tahoe and Yukon SUVs by the end of 2007, and the other two automakers will also introduce versions within five years. “Working together we were able to pick the highest bar,” says GM’s Larry Nitz. DaimlerChrysler’s Andreas Truckenbrodt agrees, marveling at the “amazing” results of bringing “wild, dedicated engineers together.” Wild engineers and the highest bar? We’re into it.