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8/6/2009
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GM Unveils Plug-In Hybrid SUV

Buick crossover will get 30 MPG or better on the highway, automaker claims.

General Motors on Thursday introduced its first plug-in hybrid automobile, a Buick crossover sport utility vehicle that will be introduced with the 2011 model. GM claims it will be the first commercially available plug-in SUV.

"Buick has always been at the forefront of new technology, so it is only fitting that the brand should debut our new plug-in hybrid technology in a beautiful new crossover," said Tom Stephens, GM's vice chairman for product development, in a statement.

The yet-to-be-named Buick crossover will feature an Ecotec 2.4 liter direct-injected, four-cylinder engine with an optional 3 liter direct-injected V-6. It also uses advanced lithium-ion battery cells and charging technology that the automaker developed for its Chevrolet Volt, an extended range electric vehicle expected to debut in late 2010.

LG Chem will supply the lithium-ion cells for the project, GM said. The batteries can be fully charged in four or five hours through any standard electrical outlet. GM says the new Buick crossover will achieve fuel mileage of 30 MPG or more on the highway. That's double the mileage of comparably sized SUVs with traditional engines, GM claimed.

As a recipient of billions of dollars in federal bailout money, GM is under pressure to support the Obama administration's goal of increasing the number of environmentally friendly vehicles on the road.

The Senate on Thursday is scheduled to vote on whether to provide an additional $2 billion for the administration's so-called Cash For Clunkers program, which provides rebates for consumers who trade older cars for new ones that get better mileage.

The house already approved a similar package.

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