Apart from the Chevrolet Volt, few General Motors vehicles are electrified. That's going to change with the introduction of the eAssist in the new 2013 Malibu.
Remember the "mild hybrid" offered a few years ago on a number of GM vehicles? It faded away but recently it looks like it's quietly coming back - as eAssist.
Already available on the Buick Regal and LaCrosse, the numbers are sure to take a jump as it becomes available on the 2013 Chevrolet Malibu, GM's volume mid-sized car.
The eAssist is a $1,015 option on the LaCrosse, replacing the standard 3.6-litre V-6. GM claims a 21 per cent improvement in fuel economy with the eAssist.
The system offers fuel savings by switching an engine off when stopped. eAssist replaces the alternator on a vehicle with a beltdriven, battery-powered 15 kW electric motor/generator and a 0.5-kWh lithium-ion battery. According to GM, the engine will also shut off in certain deceleration conditions. When coasting or braking, the car has a regenerative braking function that charges the battery.
Although the eAssist system uses electric power to move away from a stop, the system is not designed for sustained electriconly driving.
Once up to speed, the gasoline engine cuts in.
The only motor the eAssist will be offered with, for now, is GM's 2.4-litre "Ecotec" four-cylinder. It is mated with a six-speed automatic that offers fuel-saving advantages over the four-speed transmission it replaces.
Those used to power will also likely like eAssist. The gas/electric drive motor gives the gasoline engine an added boost. People who have driven the system compare the feeling to the boost provided by a turbocharger.
The eAssist motor adds 15 hp and 79 lb.-ft. of torque, giving the car a combined power output of 182 hp and 172 lb.-ft. of torque.
The electric motor/generator sits in the trunk, effectively reducing cargo capacity.
It blocks 60 per cent of the rear seat. The other 40 per cent of the rear seat back can still be folded forward to extend cargo capacity.
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