General Motors is working on a plug-in hybrid version of the Chevrolet Cruze to complement its expanding range of compact cars.
Word comes by way of Australia’s GoAuto, which talked to GM’s Jim Federico at last week’s Los Angeles Auto Show. Federico said the Cruze would forego the traditional hybrid route for a plug-in model to be sold alongside the Chevrolet Volt.
The two cars, however, would differ in technology. The Volt is essentially an electric car that has a range-extending engine that refills the car’s batteries and rarely powers the wheels directly. The Cruze plug-in will function more like a traditional hybrid model, with the engine and electric motor both seeing duty putting power to the wheels.
With the exception of lithium-ion battery technology, the Cruze plug-in and more expensive Volt would share little drivetrain technology.
The plug-in Cruze would compete against the Toyota Prius Plug-in that was just introduced for the 2012 model year, as well as the Ford Focus Electric and other compact hybrid models. Additionally, earlier this year, Chevrolet began testing an all-electric version of the Cruze in Seoul, South Korea to help gauge market acceptance of an electric version. Chevrolet claims its all-electric prototype has a range of 100 miles, similar to those of potential competitors.
Chevrolet has already announced for 2013 that it will offer a diesel version of the Cruze, so plug-in and electric versions would only help cement the domestic offering as one of the most versatile greenie-mobiles. As it stands, the automaker sells the 42-mpg Chevrolet Cruze Eco, one of the most efficient vehicles in its class.