GM to unveil new Buick hybrid

2010_buick_lacrosse.top.jpgGeneral Motors will unveil a fuel-efficient version of its Buick LaCrosse luxury sedan at the Los Angeles Auto Show. By Peter Valdes-Dapena, senior writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- General Motors will unveil a hybrid version of its popular Buick LaCrosse sedan this week at the Los Angeles Auto Show. But don't expect GM to call it a hybrid.

The new car, which uses a 4-cylinder engine and a lithium-ion battery pack, is expected to get 37 miles-per-gallon on the highway and 25 mpg in the city. Compared to the current 4-cylinder LaCrosse, the hybrid will provide roughly 25% to 30% better fuel economy.

2012_buick_lacrosse_e_assist.03.jpg
GM's eAssist system relies on a relatively small battery, which helps preserve trunk space.

This new version will go on sale for the 2012 model year, replacing the non-hybrid 4-cylinder LaCrosse. Customers will then be able to choose either a 6-cylinder LaCrosse or the hybrid car, both starting at about $30,000, according to GM executives.

GM won't call the car a hybrid, however, even though the term fits. Instead, the automaker is calling the fuel-saving system used in the new LaCrosse "eAssist."

The system is an improved version of the mild-hybrid system used in the Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid, which was available in the 2008 and 2009 model years, but found few buyers.

LaCrosse's eAssist has a more powerful battery pack -- in addition to other enhancements -- resulting in a much greater fuel economy gain, than the extra 3 mpg buyers got in the Malibu Hybrid. In designing this new system, engineers used information they learned in developing the Chevrolet Volt and GM's big hybrid SUVs, said Jim Federico, GM's executive director for compact and electric vehicles.

The new battery and more efficient electric motors provide greater assistance to the gasoline engine, so the car can go short distances at higher speeds without the gasoline engine running.

Besides better fuel economy, there are other reasons to think this hybrid might fare better than GM's last try.

For one thing, there will be no non-hybrid version selling for less money alongside the new hybrid car. Also, by not using the word "hybrid" in describing the car, GM is avoiding comparisons to cars like the Toyota Prius or the Lincoln MKZ hybrid, said Buick spokeswoman Carolyn Normandin.

Ford Motor Co.'s MKZ Hybrid -- a smaller car compared to the LaCrosse -- gets 39 mpg in combined city and highway driving, while the Prius gets 50.

"We're clearly not trying for the largest fuel economy number we can get," Normandin said.

She added that their engineers didn't want to sacrifice performance or quietness for the sake of fuel economy. To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Find Your Next Car
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,678.70 6.10 0.03%
Nasdaq 4,771.76 13.88 0.29%
S&P 500 2,057.09 5.27 0.26%
Treasuries 1.83 0.01 0.61%
Data as of 5:29pm ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 15.85 0.12 0.76%
Apple Inc 113.10 0.12 0.11%
Safeway Inc 35.10 -0.19 -0.54%
Microsoft Corp 47.01 -0.17 -0.36%
General Electric Co 24.59 0.11 0.45%
Data as of 4:02pm ET

Sections

Sales of nearly every non-Windows product were up, helping Microsoft's revenue grow 8%. More

Solid economic growth over the next few years should help keep the federal deficit at a very modest level until 2018. But after that, the nation's deficit will start growing again, the Congressional Budget Office said in its latest 10-year outlook. More

First introduced in 2007 as way of sifting through Twitter's newsfeed, the hashtag has since spawned new tech businesses and become a pop culture phenom that retailers are cashing in on. More

Identity thieves are stealing people's Social Security numbers and other key pieces of personal information in order to file a fraudulent tax return and claim a refund, the IRS warned Monday. More

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2015 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2015. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2015 and/or its affiliates.